Thursday, November 08, 2012

Lazy Kebabs & Bread Salad

One night in October, I made a Middle East-accented dinner of lemony chicken kebabs, North African-spiced bread salad, and Near East brand almond rice pilaf. It was a splendid combination! The kebab recipe was originally for lamb and called for it to be on skewers. Well, I forgot to soak the skewers, so it became "deconstructed" kebabs for supper! Oh, well. The chicken was delicious and very juicy.

Lazy, Lemony Chicken Kebabs
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. grated lemon zest
2 tbsp. brown sugar
3/4 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper
1 & 1/2 lb. chicken
1 lemon, cut in 8 wedges
1 green pepper, cut in 8 wedges

Preheat broiler to high. Line baking sheet with foil. Mix all but chicken, lemon, green pepper. Toss with chicken. Place on baking sheet & broil 10 minutes, or until cooked through. Serves 4.

North African Bread Salad
2 minced cloves garlic
1/4 c. dry white wine
Zest of 1 lemon
Chopped pulp of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. fennel seed, ground
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. allspice
4 tbsp. olive oil
3 c. 1" chunks of stale, chewy bread
1 lb. steamed green beans, cut into 2" lengths
1 yellow pepper, cut in 1" dice
3 tomatoes, cut in 1" chunks
1/2 c. roasted, salted almonds
Salt & pepper

Mix the garlic, wine, lemon, & sugar. Heat spices with oil until fragrant. Add to garlic mixture. Add everything else and gently toss to coat. Serves 4-8. This is my adaptation from "The Splendid Table: How to Eat Weekends."

Friday, October 26, 2012

Caliente Pot Roast

Last night, I got home late but thanks to this recipe, we were sitting down to dinner 40 minutes later---and that was including time out to help my 17-year-old prepare for his debate! I served this with a bagged Dole Southwest salad & steamed green beans. The leftover couscous, even though cooked in chicken broth, was good reheated this morning with a little butter & brown sugar. This is my adaptation of a BHG cookbook called "365 Last-Minute Meals" that I would recommend to anyone who has very little time to cook & doesn't object to a semi-homemade approach.

Caliente Pot Roast
1 14-oz. package cooked pot roast au jus from the refrigerator section
1 1/2 c. sliced fresh mushrooms
8 oz. picante sauce
14 oz. chicken stock
1 c. quick couscous
Sour cream
Chopped tomato
Avocado chunks

Put pot roast jus in large skillet with mushrooms & picante sauce. Let heat while cutting roast into 1" dice. Add meat to skillet. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover & simmer 10 minutes. Meanwhile, bring chicken broth to a boil. Stir in couscous, remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Serve pot roast over couscous, garnished with sour cream, tomato, & avocado. Serves 2-4.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Garbanzo Soup

Today, Jeannene has been recovering from a very nasty migraine, so a pot of soup was a perfect dinner plan. A little pumpkin swirl toast on the side & apples with caramel dip for dessert made for a nice fall meal.

Garbanzo Soup
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp. salt
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
A few threads of saffron
2 tbsp. lightly toasted cumin seeds
2 tsp. dry mustard
4 cans garbanzos, drained & rinsed
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Juice of 1 lemon
Black pepper
Cayenne pepper
2-3 tbsp. tahini (optional)

Heat oil in soup pot. Add everything up to the garbanzos. Sauté about 10 minutes. Add garbanzos & stock. Bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, & cook 20 minutes. Add rest. Adjust seasonings. In hindsight, this would probably also be really good puréed, kind of like hummus soup. Will try next time! Serves 6-8.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Cheesy Garlic Bread

Tonight was a simple, cozy dinner night, with practically no cooking involved. It was delicious! I cooked some perciatelli al dente, doctored a jar of Newman's Own Sockarooni sauce with extra basil & garlic, put together a Caesar salad from a Dole kit, & made this bread:

1 tbsp. shredded cheddar
2 tbsp. shredded asadero
2 tbsp. shredded parmesan
Some chopped parsley
The white & light green part of 1 scallion, minced
Dash of salt
3 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 loaf farmhouse bread (French would be just great, too)

Mix cheeses, parsley, scallions, salt. Melt butter in small skillet. Add garlic & cook until fragrant. Slice bread in half, then across. Dip cut side of each piece in butter. Put on baking sheet, butter-side-up, and top with cheese mixture. Broil until melted & bubbly.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Planned October 2012 Meals

1- Grab it & growl
2- Grab it & growl
3- Broccoli soup, fried green tomato BLTs
4- Cafe Istanbul
5- Bamboo Cafe
6- Calico beans for Aaron & Mimi's Wedding Hootenanny
7- Vegetable soup, rolls, tutti frutti salad
8- Jeannene's choice
9- Empanadas, black beans & rice, avocado salad
10- Spaghetti, Caesar salad, cheesy garlic bread
11- Jeannene's choice
12- Lemony lamb skewers, lentil pilaf, North African bread salad, chocolate upside-down cake
13- Golden garbanzo soup, fall salad, hearty bread
14- Jeannene's choice
15-17- GLAUCE Fall Gathering
18- Butternut, goat cheese, & sage ravioli with hazelnut brown butter, salad, ciabatta
19- Oktoberfest at Church
20- Jeannene's choice
21- Pumpkin Joes & pumpkin pie dip with gingersnaps for Family@5 harvest potluck
22- Jeannene's choice
23- Broiled grouper, dilled rice, salad with creamy garlic dressing, grapefruit compote in rosemary syrup
24- Buttery cabbage & noodles for new member potluck
25- Caliente pot roast over couscous, green beans
26- Vietnamese food in honor of my grandmommy's 10/27 birthday
27- Wild Mango Queens Jack o'Lantern party
28-4- Mama food
5- Jeannene's choice
6- Jeannene's choice
7- Nacho chicken, yellow rice, refried beans, green salad

Sabbath Noshes-
Chocolate chip pie
Chocolate chile bread pudding
Chicken salad
Fried taters

Bonus cooks-
Taco soup
Peanut butter bars

Steaks for Jessie & Tom

My cousin, Jessie, and her boyfriend, Tom, recently moved 10 minutes away from us. When they came to dinner a few weeks ago, I made paprika-rubbed steaks with blue cheese butter, baked potatoes, & steamed broccoli. This is my adaptation of a February 2005 "Food & Wine" magazine recipe:

5 thinly-sliced cloves garlic
1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. smoked Spanish paprika
Pinch cayenne
Pinch oregano
1/4 c. olive oil
4 10 oz. ribeyes, about 1" thick
4 tbsp. butter, softened
1 tbsp. finely-chopped shallot
1 scallion, finely-chopped (dark green only)
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese (Valdeón recommended), at room temp

Mash garlic to a paste with the salt (a molcajete is useful here). Mix with the spices. Add the oil, mix well, and rub into steaks. Let stand 1-4 hours or overnight in fridge. Mash butter with shallot & scallion. Add cheese & mix well. Pat into 4" long log, wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper, & chill until firm. Grill or broil steaks to desired doneness. Serve with butter slices on top. Serves 4.

Carrot Soup & Jicama Salad

I love the monastery kitchen cookbooks & often pair a soup & a salad from those respective books. The food is delicious and the books have cool illustrations & great little stories & quotes. You should own them. Last month, we had the carrot potage & the mixed jicama salad, both lovely. Sourdough rolls completed the meal. These are my adaptations:

Carrot Potage
10 carrots
1 potato
1 onion
8 c. chicken stock
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. sugar
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley

Peel & slice carrots, potato, & onion. Put in a soup pot with stock, tomato paste, butter, & sugar. Cover & cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat about an hour. Blend with an immersion blender or carefully, in small batches, in a regular blender. If you don't have an immersion blender, do yourself a favor and get one. They're wonderful. Season soup and add cream. Heat through. Garnish with parsley when serving. Serves 6.

Mixed Jicama Salad
About 1 lb. jicama, peeled & cut into matchsticks
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, & cut into matchsticks
2 green peppers, cut into matchsticks
2 apples, peeled & cut into matchsticks
1 tbsp. lemon juice
7 mint leaves, cut in chiffonade
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsp. lemon juice
2 tsp. cider vinegar
Salt & pepper

Toss all ingredients up to mint gently in a large salad bowl. Chill 1-2 hours. Just before serving, toss in mint. Whisk
olive oil with 2 tsp. lemon juice, cider vinegar, salt, & pepper until slightly thickened. Toss with salad, making sure everything is nicely coated.

Pork Cordon Bleu & Other Yummies

Playing recipe catch-up again, a round-up of dishes I've made in the last month. First up, a delicious variation on chicken cordon bleu, using pork tenderloin. I served it with mashed potatoes & applesauce.

Pork Cordon Bleu
1 1/4 lb. pork tenderloin
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. flour
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 slices Swiss cheese, halved
4 slices ham, halved
1/4 c. dry white wine
1/4 c. chicken broth
1 tsp. sage

Slice pork diagonally, across the grain, into 8 thin slices. Pound to 1/8" thickness. Season. Lightly dredge in flour. Heat oil on medium-high in a large skillet. Cook the pork about 3 minutes in the oil. Turn & top each slices with a slice of ham & a slice of cheese. Carefully pour wine & broth into the skillet. Bring to a boil. Cook until liquid is reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle with sage & serve with sauce in the pan. A twist of lemon is nice, too. Serves 4.

One night when Jeannene was out of town, I made an adaptation of my friend, Diane Carpenter's Szechuan chicken pasta salad. I call my version "Asianish chicken pasta salad." It was yummy indeed even before the recommended overnight chill.

Asianish Chicken Pasta Salad
1 lb. thin noodles, cooked (I just used spaghetti)
3/4 c. soy sauce
1/4 c. peanut oil
2 c. mayonnaise
1 tbsp. Dijon
1/4 c. sesame oil
2 chicken breasts (skinless, boneless), cooked & diced
6 thinly-sliced scallions
2 chopped carrots
1 chopped red pepper
8 oz. sliced water chestnuts
6 oz. mini corn, sliced
1/2 lb. snow peas, julienned
Lightly toasted sesame seeds
Szechuan chili oil

Toss noodles with 1/2 c. soy sauce, then peanut oil. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally to make sure pasta is well-coated. Mix mayonnaise, Dijon, sesame oil, 1/4 c. soy sauce, chili oil to taste. Add chicken, scallions, carrots, red pepper, water chestnuts, & mini corn to noodles. Mix with sauce. Chill overnight. Add snow peas just before serving. Garnish with sesame seeds. This makes a ton, so if you have cousins living nearby, stop by their place late on a rainy night to drop off leftovers & have a good visit.

My friend, Suzanne Evans, who is a fantastic life coach, gave me a recipe for her corn frittata, which is out of this world. I served it with my friend Kira's herbed potatoes, a stunner of an heirloom tomato salad, & my almost-grandma's boozy fruit.

Suzanne's Corn Frittata
3 ears sweet corn
Cooking spray
Salt & pepper
5 egg whites
2 eggs
1/4 c. chopped basil
1/4 c. grated smoked mozzarella

Preheat broiler. Cut corn off the cob. Sauté in sprayed skillet with salt & pepper for about 5 minutes. Set aside. Lightly beat the egg whites & eggs. Add basil & half the cheese. Add corn. Spray an oven-proof skillet and add egg mixture. Cover & cook 5 min. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese across the top & broil until bubbly & browned. Serves 4.

Kira's Herbed Potatoes
1 1/2 lb. small red potatoes
1 1/2 tsp. olive oil
6 sprigs rosemary
6 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp. white wine
2 1/2 tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash & halve the potatoes. Put 1/2 c. of potatoes on each of 6 squares of foil. Divide the rest of the ingredients evenly among the foil packets. Seal, place on a baking sheet, and bake 1/2 hour. Let cool 5 minutes before opening. Serves 6.

Heirloom Tomato Salad
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1/4 lb. haricots verts, trimmed
1/4 lb. olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. minced chives
2 tsp. minced thyme
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 tsp. pepper
3 lb. assorted heirloom tomatoes, cut in big chunks
1 small head fennel, cut in 1/8" slices
2 c. arugula (I subbed baby spinach after discovering my arugula had keeled over)
1/2 c. finely-chopped red onion
6 oz. crumbled gorgonzola

Bring a pot of water to a boil with the salt. Cook haricots verts in it for about 2 minutes, until just tender, then plunge into an ice bath. Whisk oil, vinegars, herbs, salt to taste, pepper, & garlic together. Add tomatoes, arugula, & onion. Toss to coat. Divide among 8 plates & top with cheese.

Much more pedestrian, but still yummy, was the tuna noodle casserole I threw in the crockpot one day. Good with a green salad with plenty of crunch---peppers, cucumbers, radishes...

Crockpot Tuna Casserole
2 large cans tuna, drained
2 c. uncooked egg noodles (macaroni would be fine, too, or shells)
4 oz. can sliced mushrooms, drained
1/2 c. finely-chopped onion
1 can cream of mushroom soup (reduced-fat works great)
1/4 c. hot water
2 oz. jar chopped pimientos (unless you are serving this to my auntie, or someone like her, who is horrified by them)
8 oz. frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. parsley

Spray the slow cooker with butter-flavored cooking spray. Mix everything together & cook it on low for 4 hours. Serves 4-6.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First Rainy Day of Fall Soup, 2012

A few years ago, I started my own little tradition of making a pot of soup for dinner on the first rainy day of fall. Jeannene & I picked up a few new Gooseberry Patch cookbooks at the Country Living Fair recently. She expressed intense interest in a sweet potato corn chowder in one of them, so I carried a list of ingredients around with me for the few days it took to rain this fall. The soup was splendid, especially out of the beautiful new pottery soup mugs we also picked up at the Fair. We had it just with some French bread, but I bet some nice, crisp apple slices with caramel dip would be a delicious finish to the meal. Here's my adaptation:

Sweet Potato Corn Chowder

1 lb. kielbasa, diced
1/2 large onion, diced
7 cloves garlic, minced
3 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
6 cups chicken broth
16 oz. frozen corn, thawed
1 large sweet potato or yam, peeled and diced into small pieces
3/4 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breast, diced
1 c. whipping cream
Salt & pepper to taste

Brown sausage in soup pot about 5 minutes. Add onion & garlic. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add flour, spices, and cook, stirring, another couple minutes. You may need to add a dash or two of olive oil. Add chicken broth & bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, & simmer about 20 minutes, until chicken is cooked through & sweet potato is tender. Add cream & adjust seasonings. Heat through. Serves 8-10.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Upside-Down, Inside-Out Pizza

Last night, I was nervous about trying a new recipe, especially a one-dish one, after having the Mexican rice turn out so meh. But this one was a keeper. We had it with a green salad, burrata crostini with tomato & basil, and balsamic berries. Delish!

For the crostini, preheat the oven to 425 degrees & bake baguette slices crisp, 7-10 minutes. Rub them with garlic and tomato. Top with burrata, tomato slices, and basil leaves. Drizzle with good olive oil, then sprinkle with salt (I used Maldon sea salt) & freshly-ground pepper.

The berries are just cut-up strawberries drizzled with balsamic & sprinkled with sugar. Black pepper adds a nice counterpoint to the sweetness.

For the pizza:
1 lb. ground beef
5 scallions, sliced
14-oz. jar pizza sauce (I used locally produced Carfagna's)
1/2 green pepper, chopped (put the other half on your salad---or greedily chomp it down while cooking, if you love 'em like I do)
1 c. shredded mozzarella
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. milk
1 egg

In cast iron skillet, brown beef with scallions. Drain. Add pizza sauce & green pepper. Simmer 3-5 minutes. Top with half the cheese. Whisk the flour, milk, and egg together. Add remaining cheese. Spread evenly over the meat mixture. Bake 20 minutes in a pre-heated 425 degree oven. Cut into wedges to serve. Serves 4-6.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meh Mexican One-Dish Dinner

Tonight called for something quick & easy, given Jeannene's 3:30 wake-up call tomorrow. This fit those criteria, but wasn't terribly delicious. The corn was the saving grace. However, I am posting it should you be tolerant of "serviceable" as an adjective describing your meal. I served it with a very tasty salad of romaine, baby spinach, basil, & mint and with the only commercially canned peaches I eat, Margaret Holmes O'Sage Raggedy Ripe Freestone Peaches.

12 oz. Mexican-style chorizo
2 c. corn kernels (I used frozen)
14 oz. diced tomatoes
2 c. uncooked Minute Rice
1 c. water
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
15 oz. can pinto beans, rinsed & drained
1 1/2 c. Mexican cheeses, shredded or crumbled (asadero, cotija, that sort of thing)

Brown & drain chorizo. Add corn, tomatoes with their liquid, rice, water, chili, & cumin to skillet. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, & simmer 5 minutes (or until rice is tender). Add beans and heat through. Top evenly with cheese. Cover & let stand a few minutes until cheese has melted. Serves 4-6.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cowboy Steaks

Tonight, Jeannene had thawed some strip steaks, but was felled by a migraine & not up to grilling. Since I am a bit grill-phobic, I made cowboy steaks instead. Pat a couple of steaks that are just over an inch thick dry. I think ribeyes are perfect, but these strips came out nicely, too. Cover the bottom of a cast iron skillet evenly with 1/2 c. coarse kosher salt. Heat on high for about 5 minutes---salt will begin to crackle & lightly smoke. Lay the steaks on the salt & cook 5 minutes. Flip & cook 4 minutes. Let rest on cutting board 5 minutes before peeling salt crust from steaks. Warning---if you use fine salt, it will be much harder to peel off the crust. I only had fine in-house this time & it was much harder. Previously, it has just kind of fallen off the steak as I lifted it from the pan. I had to work at it tonight. But this cooking method keeps the steak very juicy!

Playing Catch-Up: From Irish Stew to Homemade Marshmallows

This is an incredibly random collection of recipes cooked in the winter, which I am taking advantage of a rainy afternoon to blog.

This Irish stew, adapted from the great Darina Allen, is my standard St. Patrick's Day dinner.
2 lb. shoulder lamb chops, 1" thick
Salt & pepper
2 tbsp. oil
12 oz. Guinness (or other dark beer)
1 lb. new potatoes
1 lb. baby carrots
1 pkg. frozen pearl onions, thawed
4 c. beef stock
2 tbsp. dark roux
2 tbsp. finely-chopped parsley

Salt & pepper the lamb. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven. When hot, add chops & sear 2-3 minutes per side. Set aside on a plate. Add the beer to the pot. Cook 1 minute, stirring to deglaze bottom of pot. Add lamb chops. Toss the vegetables with salt and pepper. Add to pan and cover with stock. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer about 2 hours, or until lamb falls off bone. Add roux, stirring well, and cook 10 minutes. Add parsley & serve. Serves 4.

Also good for St. Patrick's Day but traditional for Halloween is colcannon.
3 lb. cooked, peeled potatoes
2 sticks butter
1 1/4 c. hot milk
Salt & pepper
1 head cabbage, finely shredded
1 lb. bacon, cooked (ham is fine, if you prefer)
4 scallions, finely chopped

Mash the potatoes with a stick of butter. Gradually add the milk, stirring it in as you go. Salt & pepper. Boil cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Drain & chop. Stir in 2 tbsp. butter. Mix everything gently together. Serve with more butter. I often make this without any meat and it is still delicious.

If you have Ramen noodles & you want to kick them up a little, stir in some crushed red pepper and a little lime juice. It's not exactly hot & sour soup, but it does give it a boost. You could also toss in some cooked chicken or tofu, straw mushrooms, and sliced scallions.

Jeannene & I love cheese soup. This version is awesome but very rich. I like it with chewy sourdough rolls.
Cheese Soup
2 potatoes, peeled & chopped
1 carrot, peeled & chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 c. chopped onion
1 c. chicken broth (or veggie broth or water)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 c. milk (I use 1% because that's what I like to have on hand for's still plenty rich!)
1 c. diced ham
8 oz. Velveeta, diced (I suspect reduced-fat would be just fine, if you're so inclined)

Cook vegetables in broth, covered, 10-12 minutes, until they are fork-tender. Don't drain. Melt the butter in a small pan. Stir the flour in until it forms a smooth paste. Add milk and stir well. Cook until bubbly. Add to vegetables & broth. Add ham & Velveeta. Stir until Velveeta melts. Heat through. Serves 4.

Another really great meal, especially on a stormy, chill night, is Amish-style beef & noodles. This is not also served on mashed potatoes, but it certainly could be, if you're the double-starch sort. It seems to be the done thing in most Amish restaurants. I believe the original recipe is from Marcia Adams, who does such a lovely, lovely job with all these plain, homey foods.
3 lb. beef chuck roast
1 lg. onion, quartered
8 whole cloves
1 small green pepper, quartered
2 lg. carrots, cut in thirds
3 ribs celery, cut in thirds
1 c. parsley sprigs
2 bay leaves
1/4 c. instant beef bouillon granules
1/2 tsp. pepper
3 qt. hot water
1 lb. extra-wide egg noodles
1/2 c. parsley, chopped

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Put everything but noodles & 1/2 c. parsley in a roasting pan. Cover and bake 3 hours. Shred meat and chop carrots. Discard the other vegetables (by the way, studding a piece of the celery with the cloves is a handy way to remove them easily at this point). Put the meat & carrots back into the broth. Add the noodles. Cover and bake 75 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Serve sprinkled with parsley.

On nights when you want something cozy, but don't have a lot of time, you can make this recipe from the September 2001 issue of "Working Mother" magazine.
Dog S'mores
4 large hot dogs
2 c. mashed potatoes (make some, use leftovers, or grab a tub of the Bob Evans ones from the refrigerator case)
4 sticks string cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Slit each hot dog open. Put on baking sheet & stuff each with 1/2 c. mashed potatoes. Put a cheese stick in the middle, securing with toothpicks, if necessary. Bake 10 minutes.

Last time it was my turn to bring a snack for my women's spirituality group, I took a crockpot of creamy sausage dip with a bag of Tostitos. I think some nice crusty bread would be tasty with it, too. It was great! Not something you'd want to eat too often, but perfect football game fare.
2 lb. sausage, browned
32 oz. cream cheese
28 oz. diced tomatoes with green chiles (I use Ro*Tel)

Toss everything together in a crockpot. Heat through, 1-2 hours on low. This recipe came from Rachael Ray magazine, February 2008, from Leigh Taylor, of China Grove, NC.

I am a big fan of chocolate malts and brownies are my favorite thing of all in the cookies & bars category, so when I saw this malted brownies recipe in the September/October 2005 issue of Weekend magazine, it was quickly pulled out & added to my recipe stash. This is my adaptation:
2 sticks butter + extra to grease pan
1 c. flour
1 c. malted milk powder (I used chocolate malted powder, because that's what I keep on hand)
1/4 c. cocoa powder
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. malted milk balls (I have used Whoppers & Malteasers)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Brush a 13x9 baking pan with melted butter. Line the bottom with parchment. Sift the dry ingredients together. Melt the chocolate with the butter. Put into a mixing bowl and add both kinds of sugar. Stir until smooth. Add vanilla & eggs. Add flour, stirring until just incorporated. Let cool 5 minutes. Add malted candy. Put in prepared pan. Bake 30 minutes. Turn pan and bake another 15 minutes. Let cool before cutting into 20.

While I have a particular favorite recipe for garlic shrimp in a great little Cuban cookbook, I am open to trying other garlic shrimp recipes. This one, whose provenance is unknown, turned out to be very, very good. I served it with great hunks of crusty bread and a beautiful salad of butter lettuce, onion, and avocado, drizzled with lime/Spanish olive oil vinaigrette. The bread, dipped in the sauce from the shrimp, is addictive. Fair warning.
Spicy Garlic Shrimp
2 1/2-3 lb. shrimp, tails on, shells removed
Tabasco (or your favorite hot sauce)
7 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 c. cracker meal or fine dry breadcrumbs
1/2 c. light rum
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 stick butter
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 tsp. cumin

Toss the shrimp with salt & Tabasco. Mix rum with lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, & cumin. Toss in shrimp & marinate 1 hour. Preheat broiler. Heat butter & oil in small pan on low heat. When butter foams, add garlic & cook 1-2 minutes. Put shrimp in baking dish. Spoon sauce onto shrimp. Sprinkle with crumbs. Broil 4" from heat for 7 minutes, until golden.

I love making marshmallows! It had never really occurred to me that it was possible to make them from scratch until I happened on this Martha Stewart recipe for them. I've been making them to enjoy in cocoa and to give as gifts ever since. Martha, of course, cuts them into fancy shapes with a cookie cutter. I love the idea, but usually just cut them into large squares. I did try the shapes last winter, but they morphed into blobs. I shall have to try again. These are utterly delicious and will make a marshmallow lover of even people who have previously actively disliked marshmallows, like my darling spouse, who cannot stop eating them when I make them. They make for a terribly decadent cup of cocoa. Here's my version, only very slightly modified from Martha's:
4 envelopes of plain gelatin
1 1/2 c. water
3 c. sugar
1 1/4 c. light Karo syrup (or other corn syrup)
1/4 tsp. salt
4 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar

Oil a 13x9 baking dish. Put gelatin in 3/4 c. water & allow to soften about 5 minutes. Put sugar, Karo, 3/4 c. water, & salt into a pan and bring to boil. Boil until it reaches soft ball stage when checked with a candy thermometer. Beat slowly with an electric mixer into the gelatin until the mixture is very stiff, about 15 minutes. Pour into prepared baking dish and smooth with a well-oiled spatula. Allow to stand, uncovered, at room temperature 10-12 hours. Sprinkle powdered sugar onto a cutting board, using a fine sieve. Turn the marshmallow mixture out onto the cutting board. Cut into squares or shapes and dip cut edges in powdered sugar. So scrumptious!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Fried Rice Goodness

I always try to remember to marinate things for the next night's dinner as I am cooking. Yesterday morning, though, I realized I had neglected to toss my pork chops in the Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki. I almost decided just to marinate them for half an hour when I got home, but asked myself, "Really, how long will it take to do it now?" Two minutes, it turns out, and that includes prepping the bottle for recycling. So I baked them when I got home & served them with mandarin oranges & this adaptation of a Gwyneth Paltrow recipe:

Fried Rice with Kale & Scallions

1/2 lb. kale
1 1/2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
2 minced cloves garlic
3 lg. scallions, sliced on the diagonal
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 c. cooked basmati rice with cumin seeds
1 1/2 tbsp. tamari

Cut kale leaves in half lengthwise, removing center rib. Cut in chiffonade. Steam 7 minutes. Heat oils in pre-heated skillet over medium-low heat. Stir-fry garlic 2 minutes. Add kale & scallions. Stir-fry 2 minutes. Add egg & stir-fry 2 minutes. Add rice and stir-fry 2 minutes. Add tamari & stir-fry half a minute. Serves 4. I think leftovers would make a great omelet!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Tonight's another dinner alone, perfect for a supper salad! Jeff's in his room jabbering away on his headset, occasionally cracking me up with the pure silliness of his conversation. The crows have gone to bed, but the night is alive with the sounds of insects and frogs. I had a delicious supper and am about to crawl under the covers to watch my first episode of "The Vicar of Dibley." Everyone says I remind them of her. Anyway, I got this wonderful salad recipe from "The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper," one of my favorite cookbooks. I had an orange with it & some sparkling water with a shot of grapefruit syrup. Good stuff. This is my adaptation of the recipe:

1 clove garlic
2 cans chickpeas, drained & rinsed
1 c. Cherub tomatoes, halved
1/2 c. pitted kalamata olives
3 heaping tbsp. capers
1 shallot, chopped
A handful of torn basil
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. lemon juice
Salt & pepper
Orange zest

Rub a salad or serving bowl with garlic. Gently mix chickpeas, tomatoes, olives, capers, shallot, and basil. Mix rest, add to salad, & toss so everything is coated with the dressing. Serves 4.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Brie sandwich, asparagus salad

When eating on my own, I enjoy very much having simple but lush meals like tonight's. I made myself a beef & Brie sandwich with walnuts & an asparagus & goat cheese salad with pine nuts & basil. I also had a cocktail, not something I usually do at home much. It's a Trader Vic's recipe, but I made it a great deal milder than the original recipe. It's called a Rangoon Ruby. The original calls for a highball filled with ice cubes to start. You add 2 oz. vodka, 1.5 oz. cranberry juice, 1/4 oz. lime juice. Then, you top it off with sparkling water & stir gently. Well, wimp that I am, I used about 3 times as much cranberry juice. I also used Stoli Vanil instead of plain vodka, which added some nice depth.

To make the beef & Brie sandwich, just toast some bread. I used oatmeal bread because I didn't want to stop at the store for crusty French bread. But I think that would be better. Then, put a couple thin slices of roast beef on top, along with a layer of Brie. Broil until the cheese is melty. Meanwhile, toast some walnuts. Scatter them across the cheese before serving. This might be really good done with granny smith apple slices & cheddar, too.

Asparagus & Goat Cheese Salad:

This is my adaptation for 1 of a Southern Living recipe from March 2006. Tear some Boston lettuce into bite-size pieces & put in a bowl. Steam some asparagus until it's crisp-tender. Drop several cherub tomatoes on top of the lettuce. Arrange asparagus on top. Scatter some crumbled goat cheese across the salad. I used Blue Jacket Dairy Silver Lake Chevre. Toast some pine nuts & scatter them over everything. Whisk 2 tbsp. chopped basil, 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 scant tsp. sugar, 1/2 tsp. salt, & 1/2 tsp. pepper together well. Whisk in 1/2 c. olive oil & drizzle over salad. If you are lazy & just chiffonade the basil, like I did, it will taste just fine.

Curry-Inflected Dinner

I love Indian food, but can only get Jeannene to go out for it if I catch her in the right mood. Madhur Jaffrey's skill as a writer & cooking instructor aside, I just don't have oodles of confidence in being able to produce delicious, authentic Indian food at home. I'm sure if I really tried, I could do okay. It's one of my mom's favorite cuisines to cook and she does a lovely job of it. But, Sunday night, I was tired from a longer than anticipated work day & was trying to think of a good excuse to go out. When Jeannene made it clear she was too piled up with work to leave the house, I relented and made this tandoori-inspired chicken. Of course it was nothing like the real thing, but it was amazingly tender and delicious! It made the whole house smell fabulous, too! I served it with basmati rice to which I added whole cumin seeds and with green beans I tossed with olive oil, salt, & pepper before blasting them in a 500 degree oven for about 5 minutes. That's my favorite way to do green beans! Works beautifully with asparagus, too. Dessert was quartered strawberries brought to room temperature and tossed with a tbsp. of melted butter, a healthy splash of balsamic vinegar, a good grinding of black pepper, and a sprinkle of sugar.

Tandoori-ish Chicken:
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. paprika
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tsp. oil

Mix everything but the chicken & the oil. Rub on the chicken. Cook in oil until cooked through. Serves 3.

Steak Night

When we have steak, Jeannene is generally the one who initiates it and cooks it. She usually makes filet. Now, I have nothing against filet, but my personal favorite is ribeye. Every once in awhile, I get a notion to make steak. This usually happens when I know we're going to be too busy to have a meal together for awhile & I want to go out with a bang. Steak is one of Jeannene's favorite foods. So, with a busy weekend and then a week of business travel for Jeannene this week, Friday night was steak night. I made Steak Diane with spicy potato wedges and Georgia cracker salad. The steak is a classic dish. The potatoes are Nigella's & the cracker salad is, as you might expect, a Paula Deen specialty.

Steak Diane:
6 tbsp. butter
1chopped shallot
2 ribeyes, pounded thin (I think sirloin is more commonly used)
2 tbsp. brandy
A big dash Worcestershire sauce
Minced parsley
Salt & pepper

In a heavy skillet (I love my Lodge cast iron), melt 4 tbsp. butter and sauté the shallots until they are golden. Turn heat up to medium-high and add the steaks, giving them a good, quick sear on each side. Add the brandy (it should flame up, so be prepared). After the alcohol burns off and the flame dies down, add the Worcestershire sauce and a few pinches of parsley. Add 2 tbsp. butter and allow to melt. Season as needed and sauté another minute or so. Serves 2 hungry people or allows for steak salad the next day.

Spicy Potato Wedges:
2 potatoes (about 1 lb)
2 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut the potatoes into wedges. Put oil & spices in a baking dish. Add potatoes & toss to coat. Bake 20 minutes in a single layer. Turn and bake another 10 minutes. Salt to taste. Serves 2.

Georgia Cracker Salad:
1 sleeve saltine crackers
1 large tomato, chopped
3 scallions, chopped
1 1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 hard-cooked egg, chopped

Crush the crackers coarsely. Mix everything together well and serve promptly. Serves 6. It sounds completely weird, but I promise you, it is truly scrumptious!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Bacon Avocado Burritos

Knowing that I'd be leaving work a little late after finishing my sermon and also stopping at the grocery to do the weekly shop, I planned a quick & easy dinner for last night. I scrambled some eggs in a little butter with cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, and crumbled bacon. Then, I heated flour tortillas on the burners, filled them with the egg mixture and some chopped avocado, wrapped them up, and there was dinner! They were delicious! I made some guacamole (I simply mash an avocado or two with key lime juice, garlic salt, & pepper to taste) to have with chips on the side because Jeannene loves my guacamole more than most things. A side of diced oranges & pink grapefruit tossed with a little honey goes perfectly, but you could always do a green salad instead. I forgot to take a picture!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Avocado Chicken Caesar Salad

Tonight was an excellent summer feast, with veggie Russian sandwiches, sweet corn, and this salad, courtesy of Nigella Lawson, with a minor modification by me:

1 head romaine lettuce
1 egg yolk
3 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
A few dashes Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan (not the canned sort)
1 cold chicken breast, cubed or torn into bite-size pieces
2 avocados, cubed

Tear lettuce into large chunks & put in salad bowl. Whisk yolk. Slowly drizzle in oil while whisking. Whisk in lemon juice & Worcestershire sauce. Toss with lettuce. Sprinkle with Parmesan, then toss in chicken & avocado. Serves 2 generously.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Spicy Marinade

While I was putting together our fish gratin Sunday night, I also threw together a marinade for pork chops & got them doing their thing overnight for Monday's dinner. I am not a grillmaster & it was hot enough that Jeannene did not want to be outside, so I baked the pork chops. I think they'd be even better grilled! I served them with mashed potatoes & steamed green beans. The marinade would be equally good with chicken or tofu. Veggies would probably be great, too, especially if you then grilled them. It has a touch of Cuban flavor, but spicier.

Spicy Marinade

1/2 c. olive oil
1/4 c. minced garlic
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. lime juice
1/4 c. hot sauce (you could vary it by using chipotle or Asian hot sauce, but I just went with Louisiana hot sauce. You could also use more hot sauce, if you're not into mellow heat.)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cumin

Mix everything together in a gallon ziploc & add whatever you're marinating.

Deviled Tilapia Gratin

After a month or so on the road, it felt wonderful to be able to cook in my very own kitchen Sunday night! I made a simple but delicious meal of fish gratin, a big green salad, and Italian bread.

Deviled Tilapia Gratin

12 oz. tilapia (orange roughy, flounder, grouper, or even tuna would work, too)
1 1/2 c. dry white wine
1 c. mini pasta shells (or macaroni), cooked
8 oz. Trader Joe's yogurt dip (you could sub plain yogurt or even sour cream)
1/2 c. thinly-sliced celery
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Salt & pepper
Cayenne pepper
1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
2 tbsp. fine dry breadcrumbs
1 tbsp. snipped fresh chives
1 tbsp. butter, melted
Paprika (I don't recommend the smoked variety)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bring the wine to a boil in a large skillet. Add fish, cover, & simmer about 5 minutes for each half-inch of thickness. Remove from pan & cut into bite-size pieces. Mix yogurt dip, celery, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, salt, pepper, & cayenne. Toss with fish & pasta. Spoon into 4 gratin dishes (or an 8x8 baking dish). Toss remaining ingredients, except paprika, together and evenly sprinkle over casserole. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake 15 minutes (25 if using 8x8). Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Simmered Tuscan Chicken

Tonight, we had a meal you might expect to see in fall or winter, simmered Tuscan chicken over spaghetti, green salad, and bread. The days & evenings have been much cooler than you'd expect in June in Ohio, though, & it was a nice comfort dish. It was very easy and required nothing I didn't already have in the house.

Simmered Tuscan Chicken

1 lb. chicken (I used breast, but thighs would be good, too)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. olive oil
9 small red potatoes, diced
1 green pepper, diced
Jar of spaghetti sauce (I like Newman's Own)
1 can green beans (I had French-cut on hand; fresh would be even better, about a pound, washed & trimmed)
A handful snipped basil (or a healthy pinch of the dried variety)
Salt & pepper

Sauté chicken & garlic in oil until browned. Add potatoes & green pepper. Cook about 5 minutes. Add everything else, bring to a boil, cover & simmer 1/2 hour-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve over pasta.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Homemade Jalapeño Tartar Sauce

Tonight, we got in late from going to our oldest's high school graduation in Pennsylvania. I hadn't gone to the grocery, so I resorted to what I had in the house already. We had Van de Kamp's frozen fish fillets with homemade jalapeño tartar sauce, corn on the cob, & boiled red potatoes with butter, chives, & fresh dill.

For the tartar sauce, I mixed half a cup of mayonnaise with half a jalapeño (minced), a heaping tablespoon of pickle relish, a handful of chives (snipped), a handful of dill (likewise), and a spoonful of capers.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Prosciutto Bundles & Parmesan Wine Bread

Earlier this month, I made little prosciutto & date bundles, polenta, green beans, and Parmesan wine bread. It was delicious and really easy!

Parmesan Wine Bread
2 c. Bisquick
1 tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 c. parmesan, grated
1/4 c. melted butter
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 c. milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix the first 3 together. Add 1/4 c. of the parmesan, along with butter, wine, egg, and milk. Mix well and spread evenly in greased 8" pie plate or cake pan. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan. Bake 20-25 minutes. Serve warm.

While the bread is baking, cook some instant polenta, adding parmesan. Steam or roast a mess of green beans. Then, wrap strips of prosciutto around Medjool dates (pitted ones) that have been stuffed with goat cheese. I bet this would be really terrific with fresh figs.

Potato & Black Bean Pancakes

This is a lovely dish to make for your favorite vegetarians (I made it for my mom, the ovo-lacto, & Jeannene, the flexitarian, in March), but it's also hearty enough for the carnivores you hold dear.

3 large potatoes, peeled, grated and squeezed dry
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 scallions, thinly-sliced
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
2 tbsp. white vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4-1/2 c. flour
Oil for frying

Mix all but flour & oil. Add enough flour to hold it all together. Fry in oil as you would latkes. Good plain or with sour cream.

The same night, my mom made grapefruit spritzers:
Mix 4 c. pink grapefruit juice with 1 bottle dry white wine & 2/3 c. sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add thin slices of pink grapefruit & 2 c. sparkling water just before serving over ice.

Slaw Variation for Non-Slaw Eaters

I usually abhor coleslaw, but I love this veggie-licious side I made this spring:

Thousand Island Slaw

2 c. bagged coleslaw mix
1 c. zucchini, julienned
1/4 c. finely-chopped red onion
1/3 c. thousand island dressing

Mix veggies together. Toss with dressing. Chill at least 2 hours before serving.

Maple Balsamic Strawberries with Amaretti Topping

This superb dessert is a perfect light finish to a summer meal!

6 c. sliced strawberries
1/2 c. sugar
2 tbsp. amaretto
A drizzle of maple syrup
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar
7 Amaretti cookies, crushed (my preference is for Lazzaroni)
7 tbsp. sour cream

Mix strawberries with sugar & amaretto. Chill 4-8 hours. Spoon into 6 dishes. Drizzle with maple & balsamic. Top with sour cream & sprinkle with Amaretti.

Easy Summer Pita

What you put in this is entirely up to you, but for a simple & refreshing summer sandwich, I like to fill a pita half with salami, provolone, sliced olives, cucumber & green pepper slices, artichoke hearts, and Italian dressing. Good with potato salad and peach slices.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Simple Suppers for the Start of Summer

Last night & tonight, the dinners I made were quick & easy, just the sort of thing for our ridiculously hectic life. It was breakfast for dinner last night, with breakfast tarts, hash browns (pre-made from the refrigerator case at the grocery), cantaloupe, and strawberries.

Breakfast Tarts:
1 can (7.5 oz.) whomp biscuits
Finely diced cooked ham, 3-4 oz.
Shredded cheese (your favorite...I used a blend of 3 Cheddars)
4 eggs
A splash of milk
A healthy pinch of lemon pepper
A healthy pinch of parsley

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 10 wells of a muffin tin. Press a biscuit in each, pushing up the sides to make a little cup. It won't cover the whole inside of the cup. Fill with ham & cheese. Mix rest & pour over ham & cheese. Place on baking sheet & bake 10-15 min. Let cool a few minutes before releasing from cups & serving. You could get really creative with these! Feta & olives, Brie & prosciutto...

Tonight's supper was Cobb sandwiches, Amy Sedaris' farmer's salad (or, my version, without her recommended sliced, cold baked potatoes because I forgot to bake them last night), & strawberries with Cindy's Kitchen fruit dip.

For the salad, I threw some spring mix in a bowl with sliced cucumbers, diced red onion, avocado chunks, roasted & salted sunflower seeds, golden raisins, really good olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, & pepper. Then, I tossed it well. Amy Sedaris recommends dandelion greens, but I didn't find any. It was superb anyway. I chopped some tomatoes for Jeannene's portion.

The Cobb sandwich idea came from Rachael Ray & it was crazy good. I cooked some bacon & toasted a couple English muffins. I mixed some blue cheese chunks with ranch dressing & sliced scallions. I tossed avocado slices with a little key lime juice. I put everything on the muffins, along with deli turkey, lettuce, and sliced tomato. Easy as can be!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Asparagus: Get It While It's Good!

Jeannene's most favorite vegetable is asparagus. She loves it so much that she cheerfully eats it year-round, lightly disregarding my disapproval. But right now, it still has the depth of flavor and the silken-crunchy texture I love. So, a couple weeks ago, I adapted a Nigella Lawson recipe from "Summer" to make a splendid asparagus pasta.

Cavatappi with Asparagus & Lemon
2 bunches asparagus, washed & trimmed
1/2 c. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
Juice & zest of 1 lemon
1 lb. cavatappi or other short pasta
2 tbsp. parsley, chopped
Shaved Parmesan

Cut asparagus into 3/4 lengths, diagonally and leaving tips whole, and steam just a few minutes. Cook & drain the pasta. Warm garlic gently in the oil just until it turns golden. Add pasta & toss to coat. Add asparagus & lemon juice & toss again. Sprinkle with parsley & lemon zest. Serves 4.

I served this with an Italian beet salad from the same cookbook. It was beautiful and tasted very wonderful. Here's my adaptation:
1 red onion, sliced in thin rings
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
4 cooked beets, 2 red and 2 golden
2 tbsp. olive oil
Chopped mint (you can skip the chopping & just scissor it on when the time comes)
Maldon sea salt
Fresh pepper
Fresh goat cheese

Let onions sit in vinegar about half an hour. Slice beets & arrange on platter, topping with onions. Drizzle with liquid from the onion bowl & oil. Sprinkle with mint, salt, & pepper. Crumble goat cheese on top.

Curry, Coconut, Coriander

Tonight, there is a hint of a chill in the air. The sun shone brightly on the green leaves as it bid us adieu for the night, but inside the house, that spring coolness lingers. It turned out to be a perfect night for coconut curry lentil soup, turkey cucumber pitas, and orange & onion salad with warmed coriander oil. The flavors of everything were so clear and bright. It was an easy dinner to put together, too, with the crockpot doing most of the work.

Around 12:45, I left my book and threw the following into the crockpot:
1 & 1/2 c. red lentils
1 onion, diced
3 c. chicken broth
1 can coconut milk
2 tsp. curry (I would up it to 2 tbsp. next time)
1 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic salt (I would use minced garlic next time and more salt)
I cooked it on low until Jeannene got home from work. (It takes 6-8 hours)

The salad was very easy, as well, and tasted very fresh & unusual. This is adapted from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Splendid Table's "How to Eat Weekends."
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/4 c. good olive oil (I used Cat Cora's extra-virgin)
1 generous tbsp. coriander
2 tsp. orange zest
3 oranges, sliced
27 nicoise olives
Maldon sea salt
Freshly-ground black pepper
A pinch of sugar

Arrange orange slices & onion on platter. Warm coriander, orange zest, & olive oil 1 minute in microwave. Let cool a bit. Scatter olives on salad. Drizzle with coriander oil, to taste. Salt & pepper, to taste. Sprinkle with sugar, to taste. Serves 2-4.

The sandwiches were pretty free-form. Mine was deli turkey, cheddar, and cucumber slices in a pita, with blue cheese for dipping. Jeannene chose to forego the turkey & slather with mayonnaise, rather than dipping.

Lemon Chicken with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Last night, we had a truly lovely dinner. It was Jeannene's first night home after an intense couple of days overnighting for work. She worked 18 hours Tuesday, so I wanted something stellar for her. This did not disappoint. The peanut sauce is Thai-ish, but mostly not, so don't be disappointed when it doesn't taste authentic. This is a quick & easy dinner, but you have to remember to marinate it! Yesterday before heading to work, I popped mine in marinade I'd mixed up the night before. When the chicken was ready, I served with with the sauce, a Thai-inspired cucumber salad, basmati rice, honeydew melon, & kiwi slices. The recipe is adapted from a Ina Garten recipe.

Lemon Chicken with Peanut Dippibg Sauce

Juice of 2 lemons
1/4 c. key lime juice
1/2 c. olive oil
1 tsp. kosher salt
A good grinding of black pepper
1/4 tsp. thyme
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Put chicken in gallon Ziploc with all the other ingredients. Smush around to coat chicken. Marinate in fridge at least 6 hours. Broil 7 min. Turn & broil 5 min.
Cool slightly, then cut into thinnish slices.

Peanut Dipping Sauce:
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1 small red onion, diced finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. ginger, minced (peel first)
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1/2 c. smooth peanut butter
1/4 c. dry sherry (please use real sherry & not "cooking sherry")
1/4 c. ketchup
Juice of 1 lime

Cook olive oil, sesame oil, onion, garlic, ginger, & pepper flakes until onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the rest & cook another minute. Cool slightly before serving with chicken.

For the salad, I peeled, seeded (a melon baller comes in handy for this) & chopped a cucumber. I chopped about a quarter cup of red onion & minced half a jalapeño. I tossed these with about a quarter cup of sugar, a couple tablespoons of rice vinegar, and a healthy pinch of salt. Scrumptious & refreshing!

Asparagus Sandwiches

I had the recipe for these asparagus sandwiches for years before I actually made them. You shouldn't wait that long. They are truly wonderful. We had them with a green salad and perfectly ripe cantaloupe earlier this week.

Asparagus Sandwiches

14-16 thin stalks asparagus, well-washed & trimmed
8 oz. cream cheese (neufchâtel is fine)
1 tsp. Dijon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. dill
3/4 c. milk (skim is fine)
4 slices rye bread
Your favorite cheese, sliced (I like extra-sharp cheddar, either Cabot or Tillamook)

Steam asparagus. Melt cream cheese in double-boiler, stirring often. Add Dijon, lemon juice, and dill. Slowly whisk in milk. Cover and simmer while you finish the sandwiches. Put bread slices on baking sheet. Top with asparagus & cheese. Broil until cheese is melted & bubbly. Serve with cream cheese sauce. Serves 4.

Cajun-Style Catfish

I really have been cooking, but have been a dreadful slouch about posting here! Last week, I had some catfish in the freezer, so I mixed up a batch of Cajun seasoning for it.

Cajun Seasoning:
2 tbsp. paprika
5 tsp. salt
2 tsp. onion powder
2 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. oregano

Mix all these together & rub into shrimp or fish about 10 minutes before grilling or broiling. It's strong, so don't use a whole bunch!

I served the catfish with baked potatoes & green beans I tossed with a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of water, and a little salt & pepper, then roasted on a foil-lined baking sheet for 7 or 8 minutes in a pre-heated 500 degree oven. Yes, 500. This also works beautifully with asparagus.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I'd planned a cozy family dinner of Amish-style beef & noodles, but with the snow & the long commute, Jeannene decided to stay overnight at work. So, I switched gears & made myself an omelet (more of a frittata, actually) starring Asian flavors. This is my adaptation of a "Real Simple" recipe in their February 2003 issue.

Crispy Rice Omelet

1 tbsp. olive/peanut/sesame oil
1 c. cooked Jasmine rice
3 scallions, sliced
1/2 Serrano pepper, seeds removed, minced (use a whole one if you like heat)
1 c. snow peas, slivered
1 tbsp. soy sauce ( plus more at table)
3 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in cast iron skillet. Add rice & cook, stirring frequently, until crispy, about 5-7 minutes. Add vegetables & cook a few more minutes. Beat eggs with soy sauce & pour into skillet. Cook a few minutes, until bottom is set. Put in oven & cool a few more minutes, until top is set. Serves 2.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dinner Plans, January 2012

-Lentil soup, good bread, salad, fruit
-Hoppin' John, rice, sauteed kale, fruit
-Skillet lasagna, salad, garlic bread
-Pizza, salad, fruit
-Amish beef & noodles, lima beans, fruit
-Corn & cheese chowder, rolls, fruit
-BBQ pork chops, mashed potatoes, broccoli casserole
-Crispy rice omelet, toast, fruit
-Dog s'mores, tater tots, lima beans
-Veracruz-style chicken stew, rice, salad, banana-chocolate chunk ice cream
-Steak with roquefort butter, baked potatoes, salad with warm goat cheese
-Kidney beans & rice, salad, fruit

Other recipes I want to make in January:
-Marshmallows from scratch
-Rosemary shortbread
-Rosemary walnuts
-Sausage dip & chips
-Red velvet cupcakes
-Cinnamon rolls (my mom's recipe)
-Brown sugar toast
-Pea soup with caraway
-Grilled tuna & gruyere sandwiches
-Malted brownies
-Chocolate raspberry truffles
-Cappuccino truffles
-Spiced pecans

Whether my action will live up to my ambition remains to be seen!

When in Doubt, Bake

Last night, I discovered that a colleague of mine had been killed in a car accident. His wife is in critical condition, but is expected to live. Greg was a real stand-up guy, much appreciated by everyone with whom he came into contact. He had just accepted a call to pastor a church in South Dakota so that he could be closer to his kids. I needed something to do with my hands last night while I mulled over the reality of his being truly gone, not just moved away. So, I made a coffee cake with the ingredients I had on hand. The recipe was on the same page of my handwritten recipe binder as the dinner I'd made. The original recipe, which I've had so longer I don't even remember where I got it, calls for blackberries, but I had strawberries in the freezer, so that's what I used. I expect you could use just about any soft fruit you like...other berries, peaches, pears, whatever sounds good. It is dense and sweet, but not overpoweringly so.

Honeyed Berry Coffee Cake

4 & 3/4 c. flour

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 c. butter, softened

1 & 1/2 c. honey

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 eggs

1 c. buttermilk

2 c. strawberries (or whatever fruit you like), fresh or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, & salt. Mix butter & honey with electric mixer until smooth and creamy (and if you want to skip the rest of the steps, you can just slather this on an English muffin, as I was tempted to do). Add vanilla & eggs. Add the dry ingredeients in batches alternately with the buttermilk until all is blended smoothly together. Fold in berries. Butter a 10" tube pan & pour the batter into it. Bake about an hour & 15 minutes, until golden on top. You know it's done if a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the cake.

If, like me, you need to eat something savory in the morning before you have coffee cake, last night's dinner is a quick and delicious choice:

Dilly Egg Muffins

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 tsp. dill

1 tbsp. flour

3/4 c. milk

3/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese

Salt & pepper, to taste

2 eggs

1 English muffin, halved

Melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the dill and cook about a minute. Add the flour, stirring well to get rid of any lumps, and cook until slightly browned. Lower heat to a simmer. Stir in cheese, making sure to allow it to melt comepletely into the sauce. Add salt & pepper. Simmer on very low heat while you fry the eggs & toast the muffin. Serve eggs on muffin, topped with sauce. This recipe feeds one, but can easily be doubled or more.

While I'm blogging, I might as well add a couple of other dishes I've made over the past week. My granddaddy, Clyde, was one of my best friends. His very favorite birthday dinner was the beefsteak pie his mom, my great-grandma Sadie, made. Either my grandmom, my auntie, or I made it for him most years for his birthday. Now that he has died, I make it every year on his birthday in his memory. And because I love it as much as he did. Jeannene has gone back to being a pescatarian as of our return from Disney, but she made an exception for Clyde's pie. Mashed potatoes are a great side. Serve with your favorite veggies, too. I like a green salad or some steamed broccoli with this.

Grandma Sadie's Beefsteak Pie

2-crust pie shell (I use Pillsbury, but if you are more ambitious than I, by all means use a from-scratch crust. I lucked into 69 cent pie crust this time.)

2 lb. boneless roundsteak, with fat trimmed

2 tbsp. butter

1/4 c. water (my grandmom sometimes used beer & that's what I use)

Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cube the steak and dredge it in the flour. Melt butter in large skillet. Brown steak, in batches, in the butter, adding more if needed. Salt & pepper generously. Put pie shell bottom into pie plate. Fill with beef. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. water/beer. Top with the other pie shell & vent. Bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees. Bake another 45 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting. Serves 6.

The other night, Pie actually had a friend over for the first time since we've moved here. He lives just down the street and seems like a really nice kid. They hung out & played video games & watched anime, had a good ol' time. Jeannene invited him to stay for dinner, so I made what basically amount to Italianish sloppy joes, with crinkle fries, corn, & peaches. I think the recipe came from Southern Living several years ago, although I have slightly adapted it. The sandwiches reheat fairly nicely for lunch the next day.

Spicy Beef Rolls

1 lb. ground beef

1/2 small onion, chopped finely

1/2 c. tomato sauce

1/2 c. ketchup

3 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. fennel seeds

1/4 tsp. oregano

6 Kaiser rolls

6 slices Provolone cheese (mozzarella would be fine, too)

2 tbsp. softened butter

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. paprika

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown the beef with the onion. Drain. Add tomato sauce, ketchup, parmesan, garlic powder, fennel, oregano. Simmer 15 minutes. Mix butter, garlic powder, & paprika. Spread on half of each roll. Add beef and cheese slices. Wrap in foil and bake 15 minutes. Serves 6.