Wednesday, December 31, 2008

chef d's baklava

1 lb. walnuts - finely chopped
1/2 cup sugar
 2 t. cinnamon
3 sticks butter, melted
1 package phyllo dough
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
1 T. lemon juice
1 c. honey
1/2 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Combine and set aside walnuts, 1/2 c. sugar, and cinnamon.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush the bottom and sides of a 13x9-inch pan with melted butter.  Open the phyllo dough and layer 6 whole leafs (or 12 half leafs) in the pan, buttering each layer as you go. (The edges will extend over the side.) Spread 1 cup of the walnut mixture.

Cut the remaining phyllo dough in half.  Layer 8 half sheets -- butter each layer.  Each sheet will be an inch or so short, so stagger the sheets from corner to corner to cover the whole pan.  Spread 1 c. of the walnut mixture.  Repeat 8 sheets and walnut mixture twice.  You will end up with 4 layers of nuts.

Layer the remaining half sheets on top -- butter each layer.  Brush the top with the remaining butter.  Trim the edges off. Cut halfway through the layers diagonally.  (Note: Do NOT cut from corner to corner.) This is done now since it will be very fragile after it's been baked.

Bake 1 hour or until golden brown.  15 minutes before the baklava should be done, mix 1 c. sugar, water, and lemon juice in a sauce pan.  Cook sauce over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes.  Remove from heat, add the honey and vanilla, and stir until well blended.  Remove the baklava from the oven and finish cutting through the layers  Pour the sauce over the hot baklava.

Cool.  Let it sit for at least 24 hours (lightly covered -- but not in the refrigerator) -- longer if you can stand it!  The longer you let the baklava sit, the better it gets.  After I have everything gathered and the nut mixture done, I can assemble the baklava in about 45 minutes.  Each pan makes 35-45 nice pieces depending on how close your cuts are.  

Remember that the frozen phyllo dough needs to thaw in the refrigerator for 6 hours.  If you thaw it at room temperature, the sheets of phyllo dough will stick together.  I have found that you can melt all of the butter and keep it in a crock pot on low so you don't have to melt butter as you go.

Friday, December 26, 2008

smoked salmon tartare

4 oz. pre-sliced smoked salmon
2 T. capers, drained and deep-fried
2 T. shallot finely minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 T. italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 T. dijon mustard
1 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 fresh hothouse cucumber, sliced in 1/4-inch slices

Finely mince the smoked salmon and plac en a a chilled bowl.  Add the shallot, lemon juice, parsley, dijon mustard, and olive oil and mix to combine.  Place a small dollop on each cucumber slice and sprinkle with fried capers.

Monday, December 22, 2008

gigi's buttermilk fudge

1 c. buttermilk
1 t. baking soda
2 c. sugar
1/4 c. butter
2 T. white Karo syrup

Put everything in a large, tall pot.  Cook until it reaches the soft ball stage (234 degrees).  Put the pan in a sink with an inch of water.  After it cools a little, beat it and if you want to, add a pinch of vanilla and/or cream.  Pour into a buttered Pyrex dish.

[edited to add:  I have found the beating to be key to this fudge getting to the right consistency to be fudge and not caramel.  We ended up putting it back into the Kitchenaid mixer with the whisk attachment and going at it for quite awhile before putting it back into the buttered dish.  You must get the air into the mix for it to be the right texture.]

A double batch fits nicely into a 13 x 9-inch dish.

[I always add a prayer at the end that I actually cooked it to the right stage!]

NOTE:  This is named "Gigi's" because it is my mother-in-law's recipe and she is called "Gigi" by her grandchildren.  This is not the recipe for another "Gigi's Fudge".

fresh fruit with mint-balsamic tea

This is my all-time favorite fruit salad.  It came from a Southern Living magazine years ago.

Serve this versatile compote on lettuce leaves as a salad, in a large bowl for a brunch or breakfast buffet, or in individual dishes as a dessert.

1 1/2 c. water
1/4 c. sugar 
1 regular-size tea bag
1/2 c. loosely packed fresh mint springs 
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 c. cubed fresh pineapple
1 c. cubed honeydew
1 c. cubed cantaloupe
1 c. orange sections
1 c. fresh blueberries

Combine water and sugar in a heavy saucepan; bring to a boil.  Add tea bag and mint; remove from heat, and let steep 5 minutes.  Remove tea bag; stir in balsamic vinegar, and let stand 5 minutes.

Pour mixture through a wire-mesh strainer into a bowl, discarding mint.  Add fruit, stirring gently to coat.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour.  Yield: 5 cups.

Per serving:  Calories 158, Fat 0.7 g, cholesterol 0 mg, sodium 11 mg, carbohydrate 40.1 g, fiber 5.7 g, protein 1.4 g.

(To reduce calories, you can use 6 packets of splenda in the place of the sugar to reduce calories -- still tastes great. Just wait until after the tea has brewed before adding the splenda.  Calories will be 60 for 1 cup.)

shrimp and grits

I received this recipe from a friend who uses it from the Lady and Sons cookbook.

2 strips bacon
1/4 c. onions, diced
2 c. uncooked small shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 T. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. ketchup
1 t. worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 - 2 c. water
salt and pepper
shredded cheese
diced green onions
diced tomatoes

Fry bacon, remove pieces and set aside.  Saute onions in the bacon drippings until soft.  Add shrimp and stir 1-2 minutes.  Stir in flour until the shrimp is coated.  Add ketchup and worcestershire sauce and slowly stir in the water until it is at your preferred consistency for gravy.

Cook grits separately per package directions.  

Place grits on plate and drizzle shrimp mixture on top.  Add cheese, onions and tomatoes.

You may also cook the tomatoes with the onions and have them as part of your gravy.

butterscotch crispies

This is another traditional Christmas cookie from my husband's family.

1/2 c. shortening
1/2 c. butter
2 1/2 c. brown sugar
2 beaten eggs
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda

Cream shortening, butter and sugar; beat eggs in one at a time; sift (or mix) dry ingredients and then add to creamed mixture.  Roll into teaspoon sized balls and bake at 350 degrees on an ungreased cookie sheet for 10-12 minutes.   Yield: about 5 dozen.

molasses cookies

These are a Christmas tradition in my husband's family.

2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. ground ginger
2 t. baking soda
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. salt
3/4 c. shortening
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c. molasses

Cream shortening, sugar and molasses.  Beat in egg.  Sift all other ingredient (except sugar) and then add to the creamed mixture.  Roll into teaspoon sized balls and roll in sugar then bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

gigi's german chocolate pie

1 package Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
1/4 c. margarine or butter
1 large can evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
3 T. corn starch
1/8 t. salt
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 9-inch pie crust
1 1/3 c. coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Melt chocolate and butter over low heat.  Mix sugar, corn starch and salt in medium bowl.  Beat eggs and vanilla in small bowl.  Gradually add chocolate mixture to egg mixture.  Add sugar mixture.  Put in crust.  Mix coconut and pecans then sprinkle on top. Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minute.  Let cool at least 4 hours.  Tastes great cold!

Monday, December 1, 2008

oatmeal bars

These bars are a great alternative to many similar prepackaged products and can be frozen for future use.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

3 c. whole oats
2/3 c. all-purpose flour (or 1/3 whole wheat and 1/3 white)
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/4 c. brown sugar
1 T. wheat germ
1/3 c. honey
1/3 c. oil
1/3 c. applesauce
1 egg, beaten
3 T. orange juice or water
1 t. vanilla extract

Combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar, wheat germ and cinnamon together in a large bowl and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine honey, oil, egg, orange juice (or water), applesauce, vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly. Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix again. Using a spatula, press mixture firmly onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet, forming one large rectangle about 1/3-inch thick (I usually only use about 2/3 of the sheet). Smooth the edges with the edge of the spatula. Bake at 350 degree for 12-15 minutes, until light brown and firm. Remove from oven and cool. Using a sharp knife, cut the large rectangle into smaller 1 1/2-inch by 3 1/2-inch rectangles.

[adapted from the Laptop Lunch User's Guide]

Sunday, November 30, 2008

chicken and rice casserole

1 pkg. Uncle Ben's Rice with herbs
4 chicken breasts (cooked and chopped)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 c. chicken broth
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 c. shredded cheese
1 can Durkee dry onions

Cook Uncle Ben's Rice as directed on package.  Mix well, put in 13x9-inch pan, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Add 1 can of Durkee dry onions and put back in the oven for 5 minutes.

[From the Mulder's Blest Recipes cookbook]

Saturday, November 22, 2008

judy's cranberry relish

Many years ago, when we lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC, we spent many Thanksgiving Days sharing a meal at the Studebaker home with their family and friends. Mrs. Studebaker (Judy) served this and it has been a staple of our holiday meals ever since.  

1 small package cherry jello
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 T. lemon juice
9 oz.  pineapple cut into small pieces (tidbits cut in half work well)
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped cranberries
1 orange, peeled with a knife to remove membranes, and sections cut-out separately to remove all inner membranes, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans

Drain juice from pineapple.  Add boiling water to sugar and stir.  Mix into jello and stir until goopy.  Add lemon juice, pineapple, celery, cranberries, orange and pecans.  Chill until firm.  Stir before serving.

Monday, November 17, 2008

mushroom-squash soup

This is perfect to warm you up on a cold, winter day.

1/4 c. olive oil
2 sprigs Rosemary
4 sprigs Sage
1/2 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 yellow squash, peeled and seeded, diced
1 zucchini, peeled and diced
3/4 t. salt
1/8 t. freshly ground white pepper
1/2 lb. portobello mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 lb. oyster mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
1/2 lb. shitake mushrooms, cleaned and thinly sliced
3 c. chicken stock
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 T. unsalted butter

Heat the olive oil in a  large pot over a medium flame.  Bundle the rosemary and sage together and tie with kitchen twine.  When the oil is hot, add the herb bundle and sizzle for a few minutes on both sides to infuse the oil.  

Add the onion, yellow squash,, zucchini, garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent but not brown.

Turn the flame to high and add the mushrooms.  Cook for 10 minutes, during which the mushrooms will give off their liquid (which should evaporate quickly due to the high heat) and deflate significantly.  Stir occasionally.

Add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the herbs, then add the cream and butter.  Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth (you can also puree the soup in a blender, working in small batches).  Keep at a very low simmer until ready to serve.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

pot o' pintos

This is a staple in our house since I am married to a Texan.

1 lb. bag of dried pinto beans (about 2 cups), picked, sorted, and washed
1 hambone
2-3 quarts of water
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/2 t. ground cumin
1 T. chili powder
2 t. paprika

After cleaning the beans, place them and the hambone in a large pot and cover with enough water to have as much depth of water above the beans as there are beans. Soak overnight then drain off the water and cover with clean water.

Add the garlic cloves and bring the water just to a boil. Turn down the heat to low and cook until the beans are soft, but not torn apart, about 4 hours. Try not to stir, as that makes the beans mushy.

After the beans are to the texture you like, add the cumin, chili powder and paprika, to your taste. Cook for another 45 minutes. Once the beans are done, add the salt and pepper. Do not add salt until after the beans are done or they will make the bean hulls tough.

Sunday, November 2, 2008


1 lb. ground beef
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
2 medium onions, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 8 oz. package of fresh mushrooms
1 t. basil leaves
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. oregano leaves
dash of pepper
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
16-oz. can (2 c.) tomatoes, cut up or pureed in blender
15-oz can (2 c.) tomato sauce
8 oz. pkg. lasagna noodles (or egg roll wrappers, as an alternative)
12-oz. carton (1 1/2 c.) ricotta cheese
2 c. (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, brown ground beef, green pepper, onions, celery, mushrooms and garlic; drain excess fat. Add basil, salt, oregano, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer covered, 30-45 minutes.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In an ungreased 13x9-inch pan, layer 1/3 noodles/wrappers, 1/3 meat sauce, 1/2 of ricotta cheese, and 1/2 of Mozzarella cheese. Repeat with next layer of noodles/wrappers, meat, ricotta and Mozzarella. On last layer of noodles/wrappers, spread meat mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan.* Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes for ease in cutting.

Makes 8 servings.

To make ahead, prepare until *, cool, cover and refrigerate up to 2 days. to serve, bake at 350 degrees for 50-55 minutes.

This recipe was adapted from the Lasagna recipe found in the Pillsbury Kitchens' Family Cookbook.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

einstein's favorite pumpkin bread

This is my eldest son's favorite way of getting vegetables. ha.

15 or 16-oz. can (2 cups) pumpkin
3 cups sugar
1 cup oil
2/3 cup water
4 eggs
3 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t. soda
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1/2 t. ginger

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease (not oil) and flour bottoms only of two 9x5 or 8x4-inch loaf pans.  In large bowl, blend first 5 ingredients.  Beat 1 minute at medium speed.  Add remaining ingredients; blend at low speed until moistened.  Beat 1 minute at medium speed.  pour batter into prepared pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for 60-75 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes; remove from pans.  Cool completely.

From Pillsbury Kitchens' Family Cookbook, 1979 edition (a cookbook I acquired through marriage)

Monday, October 20, 2008

basic asian soup

This is just a basic broth that I use as a light side to asian dishes. 

2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup carrot, julienned
1/2 cup, bok choy, thickly sliced
1 t. fresh ginger, grated
a dash of asian kitchen blend seasoning (includes garlic, fennel, anise, green peppercorn, red pepper flakes, and white pepper)
4 sheets wonton wrappers
oil for frying the wrappers
green onions, sliced
salt and pepper, to taste

Add first five ingredients and bring to a light boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for about 5-8 minutes or until vegetables are slightly tender.  

Slice wonton wrapper sheets in 1/4-1/2" strips and drop in hot oil.  Fry until just starting to turn light brown and are crisp (test on one first to get a feel for it), remove from oil and let drain on a paper-towel lined plate. 

Pour soup into bowl and garnish with wonton strips and green onion slices.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

orange and red onion salad

Makes 2 salads
Total time: about 30 minutes

2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. honey
1/2 t. Dijon mustard
Juice of 1/2 an orange
Salt and pepper to taste
3 T. olive oil
1 navel orange, peeled, sliced into rounds
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 t. unsalted butter
2 t. sugar
Salt and cayenne to taste
2 cups mesclun salad mix
Minced fresh chives

Whisk vinegar, honey, mustard, orange juice, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl.  Drizzle in oil, whisking constantly, until emulsified.
Marinate oranges and onion in vinaigrette in a shallow dish (such as a pie plate) for 10 minutes.
Toast almonds in butter in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat.  When just barely golden, add the sugar, salt, and cayenne.  Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until browned and coated with melted sugar.  Transfer nuts to a plate to cool.
To assemble, arrange greens on a platter, top with the oranges, onion, and some of the vinaigrette.  Sprinkle with chives and candied almonds.

Per serving: 380 calories; 70% calories from fat; 31g total fat; 28g carb; 34mg sodium; 4g fiber; 5g protein.

From Cuisine at Home magazine, Issue No. 63, June 2007.

BLT Pasta

Makes 3 1/2 cups
Total time: about 45 minutes

For the bread crumbs--
Mince; Toast in 1 teaspoon olive oil:
1 garlic clove
1 cup French Bread, cubed (about one 1/2"-thick slice)
Salt to taste

For the Pasta--
2 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
Caramelize; add:
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 cup leeks, thinly sliced
Deglaze with; add and simmer:
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 t. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
Cook; finish pasta with:
4 oz. dry bucatini or spaghetti
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/4 t. minced fresh thyme (or a pinch of dried thyme)
Reserved bacon pieces
Garlic bread crumbs

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil for the pasta.
Mince the garlic for the bread crumbs in a  food processor, add the cubed bread, and process until coarse.  heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium; add crumbs and toast until golden, 3-4 minutes, stirring often.  Season with salt and set aside.
Saute the bacon for the pasta in a  large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Cook until crisp, then drain pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.  Pour off all but 1 T. drippings.
Caramelize the tomatoes and sugar int he drippings over medium heat.  Cook until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the leeks; saute until wilted, 3-4 minutes.
Deglaze with wine; simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated.  Add the broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes, and simmer until reduced by 1/3, about 5 minutes.
Cook the pasta in boiling water according to package directions.  Add the spinach, thyme, and bacon pieces to the sauce, then transfer the cooked pasta from the water to the pan using tongs. Toss to coat, season with salt, then divide pasta between plates.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs before serving.

per serving: 564 calories; 35% calories from fat; 22g total fat; 69g carb; 560mg sodium; 5g fiber; 17g protein.

From Cuisine at Home magazine, Issue No. 63, June 2007

italian sausage ragu with penne pasta

For ease, buy Italian sausage in bulk.  If it's not available, simply remove the casings from link Italian sausage.

Makes 3 cups ragu, 4 cups pasta
Total time: 40 minutes

1/2 lb. dry penne or ziti
1/2 lb. bulk Italian Sausage
3/4 cup yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 t. tomato paste
2 t. garlic, minced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes in juice (14 oz.)
1 t. sugar
Pinch red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the penne.
Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.
Brown the sausage in a large saute pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, crushing it into small pieces using a potato masher.  Add the bell pepper and onion; cook 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste and garlic.  Saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
Deglaze with wine, then increase heat to high and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated.  Add tomatoes, sugar, and pepper flakes; bring to a simmer and cook 5-8 minutes, or until thickened.
Season ragu with salt, stir in parsley, and serve over penne.  Garnish each serving with Parmesan.

Per 3/4 cup ragu with 1 cup pasta: 425 calories; 28% calories from fat; 13g total fat; 53g carb; 842mg sodium; 2g fiber; 9g protein.

From Cuisine at Home magazine, Issue No. 65, October 2007

thai chicken skewer wraps

Makes 16 wraps, about 2 cups sauce
Total time: 1 hour

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves, packed
6 T. brown sugar, divided
6 T. fresh lime juice, divided
2 T. Thai red curry paste, divided
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
Salt to taste
2 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced into 1/4"-thick strips
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T. fresh ginger, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
16 Boston or bibb lettuce leaves
16 strips each red bell pepper and cucumber
Lime wedges

Blend cilantro, 4 T. brown sugar, 2 T. lime juice, 1 T. curry paste, pepper flakes, and salt in a food processor until smooth.  Pour over chicken, toss to coat, and marinate 10 minutes.  Preheat broiler to high with rack 6" from element; coat a broiler pan with nonstick spray.
Process 2 T. brown sugar, 4 T. lime juice, and 1 T. curry paste with peanut butter, water, shallots, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in the processor (it's not necessary to wash the bowl) until smooth.  Transfer to a serving dish.
Thread chicken onto 32 skewers.  Arrange 8 skewers on prepared pan; cover ends of skewers with foil to prevent burning.  Broil chicken in batches until browned and cooked through, 6 minutes.  

To serve, wrap a lettuce leaf around 2 strips of chicken, remove skewers, then add bell pepper and cucumber.  Drizzle with sauce and lime juice.

Per wrap:  140 calories; 31% calories from fat; 5g total fat; 9g carb; 280mg sodium; 1g fiber; 16g protein.

From Cuisine At Home magazine, Issue No. 67, February 2008 

NOTE:  The second time I made this I made a few adjustments which I ended up liking much better.  Instead of cooking the chicken like this recipe states, I sliced the pounded chicken breast into 1/4" strips and used the chinese 'velveting' technique (mix an egg white with 2 TBSP. of cornstarch and mix well, then mix in the chicken and let it sit in the fridge for at least an hour -- then deep fry very quickly, about 15 seconds, and drain).  After velveting the chicken, I set it aside then made the peanut butter sauce.  Then, instead of just putting the sauce on the meat in the lettuce, I did a quick stirfry of the velveted chicken and the peanut sauce.  I then placed the chicken mixture, with the red bell pepper strips and cucumber strips, on a warmed-in-an-ironskillet flour tortilla.  I think it would still be best this way if you used the lettuce for wraps, but I needed a little more substance to my meal.

Friday, October 10, 2008

dan dan noodles with pickled cucumbers

Most dan dan recipes use ground pork, but this variation with ground turkey breast is lighter.  Turkey isn't quite as flavorful as pork, so the peanut really helps in that arena.  

For the cucumbers--
2 c. cucumber, julienned
1/2 c. red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 c. rice vinegar
1 T. sugar
1/8 t. red pepper flakes
salt to taste

For the noodles and sauce--
1/2 lb. long-life noodles or dry spaghetti
Whisk together:
1/4 c. dry sherry
1/4 c. chicken broth
3 T. chunky peanut butter
2 T. soy sauce
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. chili garlic sauce
1 t. toasted sesame oil
Stir-fry in 2 teaspoons peanut oil; add:
1/4 c. red bell pepper, minced
3 T. fresh ginger, minced
2 T. garlic, minced
12 oz. ground turkey breast
Stir in:
prepared peanut sauce
Garnish and serve with:
chopped fresh cilantro
thinly sliced scallions
pickled cucumbers

Combine all ingredients for the cucumbers in a bowl; cover and chill until ready to serve.
Cook noodles in a large pot of boiling water until al dente (refer to package for cooking times). Drain; keep warm.
Whisk sherry, broth, peanut butter, soy sauce, sugar, chili garlic sauce, and sesame oil together in a bowl; set aside.
Stir-fry bell pepper, ginger, and garlic in peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, 30 seconds.  Add turkey in large chunks and reduce heat to medium.  Cook until it begins to brown, 3 minutes.  Turn meat over and brown the other side.
Stir in prepared peanut sauce and break up the turkey.  Simmer until turkey is cooked through and sauce thickens, 4-5 minutes.  Serve meat sauce over the cooked noodles.
Garnish with cilantro and scallions; serve with cucumbers.

Per 1 cup noodles, 1/2 cup sauce, and 1/4 cup cucumbers: 450 calories; 23% calories from fat; 12g total fat; 56g carb.; 346mg sodium; 4g fiber; 33g protein.

(from Cuisine At Home, Issue 61, February 2007)

Thursday, October 9, 2008

creamed asparagus

This goes great as a side to salmon cakes.  Makes 1/2 lb. asparagus, 1 cup sauce, in about 20 minutes.

1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-2" pieces
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole milk
1/2 c. chicken broth
2 T. chopped fresh dill
fresh lemon juice, minced lemon zest, salt and white pepper to taste

Blanch asparagus in boiling water until crisp-tender, 3-4 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.
Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 1 minute.  Add milk and broth, increase heat to high, and bring to a boil, whisking constantly until sauce thickens.
Off heat, add dill, lemon juice, and zest; season with salt and pepper.
Stir in asparagus just before serving.

Per 1/2 cup: 114 calories; 61% calories from fat; 8g total fat; 8g carb.; 43mg sodium; 1g fiber; 4g protein

(from Cuisine At Home, Issue No. 62, April 2007)

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

salmon cakes

No need to purchase expensive salmon for this recipe, but do make sure the fish is super-fresh! It is important to let the cakes chill for at least 30 minutes before cooking to ensure they have the chance to set up and not fall apart while frying.

Makes 8 cakes

1 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 c. celery, chopped
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 c. onion, chopped
1 egg white
1 T. Sriracha or hot sauce
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 lb. fresh salmon, skinless, diced
2 T. vegetable oil

Process the first 9 ingredients in a food processor until the vegetables are minced.
Combine the salmon with the vegetable mixture, then form it into 8 cakes on a parchment-lined baking sheet using a 1/3-cup measure.  Lightly press into 1"-thick patties, cover, and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Heat the oil in an ovenproof saute pan over medium-high.  Add cakes and fry for 2 minutes per side, or until browned.  Transfer pan to the oven to cook cakes through, 2-4 minutes.

Per 2 cakes: 292 calories; 45% calories from fat; 15g total fat; 13g carb.; 645mg sodium; 1g fiber; 26g protein

(from Cuisine At Home, Issue 62, April 2007)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

surf & turf: grilled bacon-wrapped steak skewers & shrimp scampi

First, assemble the skewers -- you can do this several hours before grilling.  Next, prepare and chill the ingredients for the scampi and salad.  Finally, make the shrimp and keep it warm while you grill the skewers and bread.  Toss the salad while the skewers rest.  

Bacon-wrapped Steak Skewers & Baguette

4 strips thick-sliced bacon
1 lb. tenderloin or top sirloin steak, cut into 12 pieces
4 slices baguette, about 1" thick, brushed with olive oil, and seasoned with salt and pepper

BACON:  Saute in a skillet over medium-high heat until nearly crisp but still pliable, about 4 minutes.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate.
SKEWERS: Preheat grill to medium-high.  Loosely weave a strip of bacon, accordion-style, between 3 pieces of meat. Thread a bamboo or metal skewer through the bacon and beef; repeat with remaining meat, bacon, and skewers.  Lightly coat meat with nonstick spray and grill, turning occasionally, until cooked to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Remove from grill and tent with foil.
BAGUETTE: Grill prepared baguette slices about 1 minute per side.

Summer Shrimp Scampi

16 extra jumbo shrimp, peeled, deveined, tail left on (1 lb.)
1 T. all-purpose flour
Salt & Pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 T. garlic, mnced
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 c. dry white wine
3 T. unsalted butter
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Toss shrimp with flour, salt, and pepper, then saute 1 minute per side in oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat.  Stir in tomatoes, garlic, and pepper flakes; cook 1 minute, then deglaze with wine  Simmer until reduced by half, 3 minutes, then finish with butter, parsley, and lemon juice.

Classic Caesar Salad

1 garlic clove
1/2 t. kosher salt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. mayonnaise
1 t. Dijon mustard
1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. anchovy paste
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 c. olive oil
3 T. Parmesan, shredded
8 cups romaine lettuce, chopped
Parmesan shavings

Mash garlic with salt using the side of a knife blade to make a paste; set aside.
Combine lemon juice, mayonnaise, Dijon, Worcestershire, anchovy paste, and pepper in a large bowl.  Whisk in oil, 3 T. Parmesan, and garlic paste.
Add romaine to bowl and toss to coat.  Garnish with Parmesan shavings.

To serve, arrange grilled baguette on plates with salad.  Top each with a skewer, then spoon shrimp and sauce over.  Garnish with lemon.

Per 1/4 recipe: 877 calories; 42% calories from fat; 42g total fat; 56g carb; 1128 mg sodium; 3g fiber; 59g protein

(from Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 69, June 2008)

Monday, October 6, 2008

garlic mashed potatoes

4 medium Idaho potatoes
4 peeled garlic cloves
2 T. butter
1/4 c. sour cream
milk, as needed

Peel and cut potatoes into cubes.  Place in saucepan with garlic and just cover with water.  Cover the pan and bring to a boil, then reduce and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, but not mushy.  Drain the potatoes, add butter and sour cream and combine with a mixer on low speed.  If they are too thick, add milk, by the tablespoon, until it reaches the desired consistency.  Add salt, to taste.

sharla's tortilla soup

My sister-in-law, Sharla, makes this when Chef D's family gets together for the holidays.  So easy, yet so delicious!

2 Chicken breasts (frozen in bag works fine, too)
2 large boxes chicken broth
2 Carrots, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1 Canned Mexican stewed tomatoes
2 cloves minced or pressed Garlic 
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
1-2 avocados, peeled and cubed
1 bunch cilantro, leaves chopped
Paprika, cumin, garlic salt to taste
Asadero or provolone cheese
Tortilla Chips

Cook chicken breasts in the chicken broth until done. Remove chicken. Cut up the chicken into pieces and return to broth. Add chopped carrot, onion, garlic, jalapenos, cilantro, tomatoes (cut up), paprika, cumin and garlic salt and cook until carrots are done. Add avocados at the end. Place a slice of the cheese on the bottom of the bowl. Ladle in soup and then top with crumbled tortilla chips.

bb's chicken and dumplin's

Although I made a few personalizations, the majority of this recipe comes from my good friend, Barb (hence, the BB's reference) who loves to cook using her crockpot. 

1 whole chicken
2 whole carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces (include leaves)
1/2 onion, cut in quarters
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 package Mary B's Open Kettle Dumplings (frozen) *
water to cover chicken in crockpot
chicken broth, if needed
salt and pepper, to taste

Wash and clean out the inside of your whole chicken and place in a crockpot, along with the celery, carrot and onion, with enough water to just barely cover the chicken. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8 hours. When it is finished, remove the chicken, strain the liquid, and dispose of the vegetables. Place resulting broth in a large pot. Add additional chicken broth, if needed. Separate the chicken from the bones, shred chicken and set it aside. Start the broth to boiling and add dumplings, one at a time while it is at a rolling boil. After the dumplings are ready (according to package directions), add the can of soup and mix well. Add shredded chicken and cook on low for a 5-10 minutes to warm throughout. Add salt and pepper to taste.

*Barb makes her dumplin's from scratch:)

broccoli salad with dried cranberries

This is one of those church covered dish supper favorites and is so visually appealing with it's varied colors.  I have had versions that included thinly-sliced purple onions and/or grated cheddar cheese, but I prefer this more simple version:

3 bunches broccoli, heads cut-up into small, bite-sized pieces
1 c. mayonnaise
1/2 c. sugar
2 T. vinegar
1/2 c. dried cranberries (or raisins)
1/2 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
1/2 c. walnuts or pecans, broken into pieces

Mix mayonnaise, sugar and vinegar in a bowl and let it set for at least 15 minutes.  In the meantime, wash and cut broccoli and put it in a large bowl.  Add cranberries (or raisins), bacon, nuts and mix well.  Slowly add mayonnaise mixture and stir, adding as much to suit your personal taste for texture.  It can be eaten immediately, but I find that it tastes better if it can sit overnight in the icebox.

chicken salad

This recipe is based upon a recipe from an Atlanta cookbook Chef D received as a gift before we met.  I have made a few changes over the years and this is the result of my experiments:)

4 c. cooked chicken, diced
2 c. diced celery
1/2 c. toasted pecan halves
4 slices bacon, fried crisp, crumbled
1/2 c. mayo
1/2 c. sour cream
1.5 t. salt
2 T. lemon juice
1/2 apple, cubed (we prefer gala or honeycrisp)

Combine all ingredients and chill for at least 4 hours.

cj's oatmeal cake

Right after I graduated from college, I moved to northern Virginia and got my first job at the Pentagon.  The first person I met there was someone who would become a close friend for years, Cathie (who I called CJ).  This is a cake she made for me and Chef D many years ago.  We loved the cake so much that we asked for the recipe and have made it many times over the past 20+ years since.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Butter and flour 8" x 8" pan.

1 c. quick oatmeal
1 stick butter
1 1/4 c. boiling water

Pour boiling water over butter and oats.  Let cool.

1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
1 1/3 c. plain flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt

Set aside:
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

When oatmeal mixture is cool, add 2 eggs and 1 tsp. vanilla.  When eggs and vanilla are well mixed, add the dry ingredients and mix well (but, do not overbeat).  Pour into pan and bake for about 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  Do not overbake!

While still warm, add topping of:

6 Tbsp. butter
1/4 c. pet milk
1/2 c. dark brown sugar
1/2 c. flaked coconut
1/2 c. chopped pecans

Mix above ingredients together and spread over cake.  Place under broiler for about 3-5 minutes to toast the coconut and pecans.

fruity pastries

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut pastry sheet into 9 squares (like a tic-tac-toe board) and place each square into a muffin tin hole.  Put one tsp. of preserves or curd into the middle of the pastry square.  Cook for 15 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on a rack.

fish tacos

2 Tilapia filets
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1 T. olive oil
2 T. butter
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. hot peppers
1 T. Creole seasoning
salt & pepper, to taste
lettuce, feta cheese
flour tortillas

Heat butter and olive oil in skillet over medium high heat.  Dust fish filets with bread crumbs, salt and pepper.  Saute fish a few minutes on each side.  Remove fish and keep warm in a 150 degree oven.  mix mayonnaise, hot peppers and Creole seasoning in a small bowl.  Divide mayonnaise mixture between 2 flour tortillas.  Place one fish filet in each tortilla.  Top fish with lettuce, cheese and salsa. 

(from Mulder's Blest Recipes Cookbook) -- leave me a message if you are interested in purchasing a copy of this cookbook for $11.00 plus shipping... all proceeds go to the Mary & Marthas women's ministry group at the Mulder Church.