Thursday, December 31, 2015

2016: Make a Goal to Save a Life






Happy New Year, Friends.



I'm so looking forward to a new year with my babies I love so much. 

When Jim and I met I had five cats.  Jim wasn't a cat person.  But after he got to know them, I heard about him recanting stories of "The Guys" to folks he worked with.  But when Spot and Muffin joined our family, well....what can I say???!!!!  They wormed their way into our hearts.  Initially they were going to be "yard dogs."  Needless to say, that lasted just days.  And once they ended up in our bedroom.....well, let me just say, the rest is history.

I had told him that I really wanted a dog.  But it was have to be a dog that was either abused, abandoned, or stray.  He called a few days before the 4th of July from a foundry he was running in San Antonio, TX.   He asked if I still wanted a dog.  HOLY SMOKES!!!! Are you kidding?!!!  And then just when I thought it couldn't get any better, he asked if I'd like TWO dogs  (is this not just the greatest husband in the world????!!!!!).

So that afternoon, he drove into our driveway on Horsemint Drive in San Antonio, TX in our green Ford Explorer.  And there, underneath the back seats were the most scared two puppies you could imagine.

They came into our (their) home.  And within a week, they finally felt comfortable.  They not only made themselves feel like they belonged in our home, but in that short period of time, we could not imagine our home without them.

Sixteen and 1/2 years later, I sit here on the bed with my bestest buddy, Muffin, on her last leg, laying here next to me.  Her litter mate and bestest sister, Spot, died several years ago.  Spot and Muffin have brought immeasurable joy to Jim and I. 

So I guess my BLOG message of January 1,2016 is this:  PLEASE open your home to a homeless dog or cat.  You cannot even begin to imagine the love and enhancement they will bring to you.   NEVER NEVER NEVER  ask a breeder to breed a dog or cat for you (these people should roast in hell).  Thousands of the sweetest dogs and cats are sitting, waiting for rescue from your local animals shelters.  Don't ever look for a pure-breed.  Mixed-breeds are not only the healthiest (meaning lower vet bills), but they know that you rescued them, and will always be in your debt. 

And at the very least, please donate to your local shelters.  Food, treats, blankets, sheets, old linens, bleach, cleaning supplies.  But first and foremost:  DO NOT PAY BREEDERS TO BRING NEW DOGS/CATS INTO THIS WORLD when there are so many sweet animals desperately needing homes.

Now after this lesson in the right thing to do, we all wish you the best 2016.  Please do make a bit of room in your heart for those who so desperately need your love.  The price you pay will pay you back In more ways you could ever begin to imagine.



Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Farro Salad w/Asparagus and Parmesan


Farro is probably my most favorite grain, just edging out wheatberries.  I love the chewy texture.  And, for me, it's a wonderfully delicious and nutritious snack alternative to chips.

I've kinda gotten away from the complex carbs and I don't know why.  For those of us who lean toward savory vs sweet, this is a fabulous choice.  Use it in place of rice and add just about anything you like.  With kale the darling of the nutrition world, I don't understand why this grain hasn't gotten the press.  But then, I usually root for the underdog.

FARRO SALAD with ASPARAGUS and PARMESAN (6 servings)

1 cup farro
1/4 to 1/2 pound asparagus, thick bottoms snapped off
1/2 cup red and/or orange grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/4 to 1/2 cup walnuts, halved or chopped
1/4 cup (more if desired) dried cranberries
fresh parsley, chopped, amount to taste
fresh chives, chopped, amount to taste
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, more or less to taste
1/2 cup shaved Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago cheese, divided

First: A note about cooking the farro:

1) Soak the farro covered with water overnight.  Drain and rinse.  Bring a pot of salted water to boil, add overnight-soaked farro.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat.  After about 5-10 minutes, start testing farro.  Mine didn't take long using this method.....way less than without the soaking.  Farro is a chewy grain, so cook it to your texture-liking.  Drain and allow to cool.

OR:

2) Fill a pot with salted water and bring to a boil over high heat.  Add the farro and bring back to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and then cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes.  Reduce heat to low, cover, and continue simmering until tender, about 30 minutes more.  Drain and allow to cool.

Bring another pot of water to a boil.  Add the asparagus and cook uncovered until tender, about 2-3 minutes, depending on the diameter of the stalks (you can also microwave-steam them if that's a method you're comfortable with).  

Monday, December 28, 2015

Midnight Cuban Sandwich


Still working on using up that Christmas ham (and some leftover Thanksgiving turkey in the freezer), I came upon this take on a traditional Cuban sandwich.  So easy and oh so good!

For exact amounts of what the author used for four servings, see the link below.  I simply bought one hoagie roll which I cut in half for two sandwiches (Publix has the best back in their deli) and then made the mayo mixture with the ratio I list.  Spread on some mustard then the meats and cheese.  I served my pickles on the side, serving both hamburger chips and bread-and-butter chips (both were great).

I don't have a panini maker, so I used a grill pan and sat a cast-iron cornbread stick pan to weigh the sandwich down.  Grill it on a medium/medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side until browned and cheese is melted.  Yumm-o!!!

MIDNIGHT CUBAN SANDWICH

Hoagie roll(s)
2 parts mayo to 1 part Italian dressing
yellow mustard
sliced ham
sliced turkey
sliced pickles of your choice
EVOO

Mix the mayo and Italian dressing.  Open up the hoagie roll.  Spread on the mayo mixture, then the mustard.  Layer the meats and cheese.  Top with pickles.

Brush olive oil on the outside of the roll.  Place in panini maker or grill pan (weigh down with something heavy) and grill until marks are on bread and cheese is melted.

Recipe Source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/38466/cuban-midnight-sandwich/

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Ham Cake-ettes


Welcome back from the holidays.  I hope your's was cooler than ours.  Yuck!  70-something degrees, shorts and t-shirts.  At least it rained all day.  If I couldn't have a white Christmas, a gray, rainy Christmas is second best for me!

We received another wonderful Smithfield ham from one of Jim's suppliers.  They sent us one last year and it was just so good.  I was thrilled when this one arrived.  But needless to say, with just the two of us we definitely had some leftovers.  So yesterday I went on a search for something different.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the standard potato/ham casserole (see the post just a few days before (12/16/15) called Cheesy Ham and Hash Brown Casserole.....I'll definitely be making that again!)  But this was just a little something different.  Potato pancakes with ham and dill and dijon.  Oh my!!! this is some good stuff.

I made a little tossed salad to go with it.  Last month my friend, Donna, took me to a notable Chattanooga hole-in-the-wall that was closing after 50 years.  Mom's Italian Villa had been a fixture all these years and she was kind enough to invite me along on their last day.  Traditional pizza and Italian fare, with a wonderful, simple side salad.  For my own purposes, I'm listing the ingredients below so I don't forget.

HAM CAKE-ETTES (4-6 servings)

1 cup finely chopped cooked ham
1 1/2 cups cold mashed potatoes
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 egg (1/4 cup egg substitute)
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs, divided
vegetable oil for frying

Mix ham, mashed potatoes, green onions, egg, mustard, dill week, S&P, and 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs together in a bowl until thoroughly combined.  If mixture is too moist to hold together, mix in an additional 1/4 cup of crumbs.

Place remaining Panko crumbs into a shallow bowl.

Scoop about 1/3 cup of mixture and form into a ball, slightly flatten into a patty.  Press both sides of patty into the Panko crumbs; tap off any loose crumbs.  Repeat with remaining mixture.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat until very hot; pan-fry patties until golden brown on each side, 3-4 minutes per side.

Recipe Source: http://allrecipes.com/search/results/?wt=ham%20cake-ettes&sort=re

MOM'S ITALIAN VILLA HOUSE SALAD

shredded Romaine or iceberg lettuce
grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
diced red onions
sliced green olives
sliced black olives
finely diced ham
shredded Mozzarella cheese
Italian salad dressing, or the dressing of your choice

Monday, December 21, 2015

Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce


I ran across this delightful little recipe while trying to find a home for some salmon and fresh dill.  I thought it would be another respectfully good recipe, but the onions and capers make this exceptional.

And while I usually serve salmon with rice, the submitter of this recipe suggested spaghetti.  The sauce dresses it perfectly.

I'm posting the recipe as it was published, but I missed the timer and mine sat in the oven longer (maybe 5+ minutes?), so I shortened the broiling time until the lemon had just begun to brown on the edges.  It came out wonderfully.

A NOTE:  I'm busy baking and getting ready for Christmas dinner...very traditional, nothing new to share.  I'll be back after Christmas.  Everyone have a lovely holiday!!!

SALMON with CREAMY DILL SAUCE (6 servings)

1 salmon fillet (with skin), about 2 pounds
1 to 1 1/2 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning
1 tsp onion salt
1 small onion, sliced and separated into rings
6 lemon slices
1/4 cup butter, cubed

Dill Sauce:
1/3 cup sour cream (reduced-fat ok)
1/3 cup mayo
1 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp prepared horseradish
1/4 tsp dried dill weed or 1 tsp fresh dill, chopped, to taste
1/4 tsp garlic salt
black pepper to taste

Line a 15" x 10" baking pan (or 13" x 9" dish or jelly roll pan) with heavy-duty foil; spray with cooking spray.  Place salmon skin-side down on foil. Sprinkle with lemon-pepper and onion salt.  Top with sliced onion and lemon.  Dot with butter.  Fold foil around salmon; seal tightly.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  Open foil carefully, allowing steam to escape.  Broil 4-6" from the heat for 8-12 minutes (this seems excessive to me.....keep an eye on it every few minutes) or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Combine the sauce ingredients until smooth.  Toss with spaghetti, reserving a bit for the salmon.  Serve with the salmon atop the pasta and with another splash of sauce.

Recipe Source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/salmon-with-creamy-dill-sauce

Friday, December 18, 2015

Turkey Spinach Enchiladas


This is a dish I just winged.  Stuff on hand I wanted to use up.  And it tasted good.  Really good.  So I don't have amounts below, but it's just a guide (for myself for the future).  I also improvised with some leftover mashed potatoes to make something akin to Abuelo's Papas con Chiles (although they use red potatoes and I had made my mashed with russets).  But it, too, was well-received.  I made my enchiladas with corn tortillas instead of the traditional flour.

Served it with refried black beans (with added chopped onions and Jack cheese) and some guacamole and chips.....a very filling meal with leftovers for lunch.

TURKEY SPINACH ENCHILADAS (makes about 8-10 enchiladas)

1 cup shredded turkey or chicken
either frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung out or fresh spinach wilted in boiling, salted water (I used 3.5 oz, about 4 cups, in 1 cup boiling water), drained and patted dried, then chopped
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped
1 tsp canola oil
4 oz cream cheese (reduced-fat ok), softened
2 oz canned green chiles, undrained
1/2 tsp taco seasoning
10 oz can green enchilada sauce
1/4 cup regular/heavy cream, or 1/2 & 1/2
8-10 corn tortillas
Monterey Jack cheese
Cheddar cheese
chopped cilantro for garnish, optional

Place spinach in boiling, salted water.  Stir until well-wilted.  Drain and pat dry (or wring out frozen thawed spinach).  Mix with shredded turkey/chicken.

In a small skillet, heat canola oil.  Saute onions until soft, 4-5 minutes.  Add to turkey mixture.

Mix cream cheese, green chiles, and taco seasoning.  Add to turkey mixture.

In a separate bowl, mix enchilada sauce and cream.  Spread some of the sauce in the bottom of a 13x9 baking dish (or two 8x8 dishes.....one for now, one for freezing) sprayed with cooking spray.

Put about 1/4 cup (or less) of the turkey mixture down the center of a tortilla and sprinkle some Jack cheese on the mixture.  Roll up.  Place seam-side down in the baking dish.  Continue until pan is full or turkey mixture is all used.  Spread a little more of the enchilada sauce on top.  Sprinkle with Jack and Cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes or until bubbly and browning.

MEXICAN-ISH MASHED POTATOES

about 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes
1-2 oz cubed American cheese (like Velveeta)
1/2 seeded and deveined jalapeno pepper, diced small
green chiles or a bit of the enchilada cream sauce
1/2 tsp taco seasoning

Mix everything in a saucepan.  Warm over low heat until cheese melts.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Fisherman's Pie



This is a recipe that was in this month's AllRecipes magazine issue.  I picked it because I had everything to make it (including leftover mashed potatoes).  I'll make it again because it's just so good.

I've mentioned before the reason AllRecipes is my favorite cooking magazine is because of reader's comments.  They give great ideas for changes and substitutions.  One reader wrote that she had added corn which I also had on hand and threw in for great results.  Other readers mention changing fish/seafood, and give more vegetable choices.  Click on the link below to see some great ideas.

P. S.  I was easily able to cut this recipe in half since there are just the two of us, plus it was just the amount of ingredients I had on hand.

FISHERMAN'S PIE (6 servings)

1 lb cod fillets, cut into chunks
3 Tbsp butter
2 1/2 Tbsp  AP flour
1 1/2 cups warm milk, or more as needed
1 cup shredded sharp white Cheddar cheese
1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup minced onion
1 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded yellow cheese
chopped chives or parsley for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 375F (190C).

Arrange cod in a single layer in a large baking dish; set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour and stir until the mixture becomes paste-like and light golden brown, 2-5 minutes.

Gradually whisk warm milk into the flour mixture and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Whisk until the sauce is thick and smooth, about 5 minutes.

Whisk in white cheddar cheese, then mix onion, spinach, S&P into the sauce.

Remove saucepan from heat and stir in garlic.  If sauce is too thick, stir in more warm milk, 1 Tbsp at a time.

Pour sauce over fish in baking dish.  Layer mashed potatoes on top.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes, then sprinkle with yellow Cheddar cheese.  Continue baking until fish is easily flaked with a fork, 15-20 minutes more.

Garish if chives or parsley, if desired.

Recipe Source:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/213430/fishermans-pie/

Monday, December 14, 2015

Greek Chicken and Rice with Tzatziki Sauce


When I lived in Oklahoma, there was a little strip-mall restaurant that had the best Greek chicken.  So when I decided I needed some tabbouleh, I knew I had to add chicken to the menu.

This recipe isn't exactly what I remembered, but it's definitely a keeper.  I just did a quick search for a Greek rice recipe to go along and an easy tzatziki sauce to use as a dip.  It was a perfect meal.

GREEK CHICKEN and RICE with TZATZIKI SAUCE (4 servings)

Greek Grilled Chicken Breasts

2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp EVOO
3 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 (1 1/2 lb) boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

Combine lemon juice, olive oil, parsley, garlic, and oregano in large plastic food storage bag.

Pierce chicken with fork several times and sprinkle with S&P.  Add to bag and coat with dressing, marinate 20 minutes.  Remove chicken from bag.

Grill or broil 6 minutes per side (or cook in a grill pan over medium-high heat, 5-6 minutes per side, or until cooked through).

Recipe Source: http://www.food.com/recipe/greek-grilled-chicken-breasts-281990

Greek Rice 

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 1/4 cups water
3 tsp butter
2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
2 tsp minced fresh mint or 1/2 tsp dried mint
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp garlic powder

In a saucepan, combine all of the ingredients.  Bring to a bol.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 15 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.

Recipe Source: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/greek-rice

Tzatziki Sauce

8 oz plain yogurt
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
3 tsp minced fresh garlic

In a mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, S&P, dill, and garlic.  Blend thoroughly.

Recipe Source: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/20827/tzatziki-sauce-i/?internalSource=recipe%20hub&referringId=17565&referringContentType=global%20nav

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Quinoa Tabbouleh



I few days ago, I had a fleeting memory of tabbouleh.  I used to make it often and somehow it just got out of the rotation.  But the memory triggered the brightness of the lemon, the crispness of the cucumber, the chewy texture of the grain.

Traditionally tabbouleh is make with bulghar wheat, of which I just happened to have on hand.  But when I opened the container, well, it was a bit old.  Having everything else on hand to make the salad and an overwhelming craving, I looked at other grains I have and what might be a suitable substitute.  Quinoa!!!

An excellent substitute it is.  The quinoa I have on hand is multi-colored (white, red, black) but any color will work.  And when it comes to cucumbers, I almost always use the small pickling cucumbers (they're sweeter and crunchier) or a English (hothouse) cucumber.  There were several recipes from which I took ingredients I prefer and made my own recipe.  Vary amounts according to your tastes.

QUINOA TABBOULEH (4 servings)

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
salt to taste
1/4 cup EVOO
2-4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (depending on how tart you like it)
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
2 pickling cucumbers, partially peeled and diced
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
chopped fresh mint, to taste
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to taste
S&P to taste

In a saucepan bring water to a boil.  Add quinoa and a pinch of salt.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temperature; fluff with a fork.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine olive oil, 2 Tbsp lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumbers, green onions, garlic, mint, and parsley.  Stir in the cooled quinoa.  Season to taste with S&P.  Add more lemon juice if desired.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Beef Stew




As with the chili (see yesterday's post), if you're a beef stew lover, you probably have your own recipe.  So this post is for me.  You see, Jim's comment on this was "this reminds me of what I used to eat."  Good enough for me (he did go back for seconds....a good sign).

I used my Ninja 4-in-1 for this (browning the meat on the stovetop setting, then turning it to the crock pot setting).  So I'm going to list this as a crock pot recipe.  Adjust if you're using strictly stovetop or slow cooker.

BEEF STEW (6 servings)

1 1/2 lb stew meat (cubes found in the meat section, or chuck roast, or London broil...I used London broil), but into bite-sized cubes
1 lb russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp S&P (I used Crazy Salt)
EVOO
1/2 large onion, cut into chunks
4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
about 10 button mushrooms, halved
1-2 ribs celery, depending on size, cut into chunks
3 tsp garlic
2 cups beef broth
14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes (undrained)
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 tsp marjoram
3/4 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 large or two small bay leaves
(green peas....I would have added at the last few minutes if I had them)

 Heat skillet until hot.  Add olive oil and bring to heat.

In a plastic produce bag, add flour, paprika, and S&P.  Add stew meat (I did this in three batches) and shake to coat.  After each coating, add to skillet to brown meat.  Remove meat to plate.

In the crock pot,  layer the onions and carrots.  Top this with browned meat. Then top with the celery and garlic.  Add beef broth.  Add the tomatoes, wine, marjoram, thyme, salt, and bay leaf.

Cook in the crock pot for 8-9 hours on low or 4-5 hours on high until beef cubes are tender.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Spicy, Smoky, Sweet Chili


I imagine most folks have their favorite chili recipe.  I don't.  Chili for me is usually a "clearing out the freezer/fridge/pantry" dinner.  I don't think I've ever made it the same way twice.

So when I ran across this recipe, I didn't think too much of it.  And then I saw the magic ingredient: smoked paprika!!!!  Why hadn't I thought of this?  I love all things smoked paprika and chili is the absolute perfect vehicle for this beloved seasoning.

So if you have your favorite chili recipe, by all means use it.  Just try adding some smoked paprika.  Or use this wonderful recipe provided by the Iowa Girl.  It's delicious.  I served mine with cornbread sticks.  A green salad is a nice touch.

SPICY, SMOKY, SWEET CHILI (6 servings)

1 lb ground beef, turkey, or chili
1 large shallot or 1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
S&P
29 oz can tomato sauce, crushed tomatoes, or tomato puree
15 oz can Bush's vegetarian baked beans (not drained)
15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
3 Tbsp chili powder
1-2 heaping Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 - 1 tsp smoked paprika
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more or less to toss....I don't use any)
chopped cilantro, optional

Toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green or yellow/white onions, tortilla chips, sour cream

Brown meat, shallot or onion, and garlic in a large skillet over medium-high heat, seasoning with S&P.  Add the remaining ingredients then simmer for 30 minutes, stirring once or twice.

CROCK POT COOKING INSTRUCTIONS:  Transfer ground meat to a 5/6 quart crock pot then add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine (can be done ahead of time.  Store in the fridge until ready to start cooking).  Place a lid on top then cook on low for 4-6 hours.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2014/09/24/signature-spicy-smoky-sweet-chili-crock-pot-friendly/

Monday, December 7, 2015

Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup


After moving to Minnesota years ago, I became quite fond of wild rice soup.  To this day, I don't think I've made it same way twice.  Every recipe I've tried has not been a disappointment.  This is no exception.

A plus to this one:  it's a crock pot recipe.  Throw everything in at once and come back four hours later for a great dinner.

CROCK POT CHICKEN and WILD RICE SOUP (4 servings)

1 lb chicken breasts (do not use frozen), cut in half if large
1/2 small onion or one large shallot, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced or chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried sage
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 large or 2 small bay leaves
2 Tbsp butter
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 wild rice-brown rice blend (Lundberg Farms brand recommended.....easily available)

Add all ingredients into a 6-quart crock pot then cook on low for 4 hours or until chicken breasts are cooked through.  Rice should be done around the same time.  Shred chicken then stir back into soup and serve (soup will thicken as it cools).

NOTE:  Depending on the type of rice you use, it may not be cooked through at 4 hours.  If that's the case, shred chicken then keep in the refrigerator until rice is tender, then stir into soup and let warm for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Source and step-by-step photos: http://iowagirleats.com/2015/10/07/crock-pot-chicken-and-wild-rice-soup/

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Indonesian Chicken


I have about half a dozen recipes I wanted to post but I can't remember where I got them!  So I hoping, like this one, the light over my head comes on and I can share them with you.

I search of those others, I found this one I did several weeks ago.  It's a wonderful stir-fry in which you could substitute other veggies (broccoli, zucchini, peppers) and maybe even doubling the sauce (a comment one user made which I will do next time.....a reason I love allrecipes.com and also their magazine.....readers give those of us who aren't very creative some great alternatives).  And their photos are much better than mine (see link below!)

INDONESIAN CHICKEN (4 servings)

1 cup uncooked long-grain rice
2 cups water
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
2 tsp EVOO
3/4 cup chicken stock or broth
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used crunchy)
2 tsp honey
1 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp red chile paste, such as Srichacha sauce, more or less to taste
2 Tbsp lemon juice
3 green onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp chopped peanuts

Bring rice and water to a boil in a pan. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, 20 minutes.

Steam green beans in a pot fitted with a steamer basket over boiling-hot water until crisp-tender, about 10 minutes (I used my microwave steamer).

Pat chicken dry and sprinkle with salt.  Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then cook chicken, stirring, until cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl.

Add broth, peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, chile paste, and lemon juice to skillet, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in chicken (along with any juices accumulated in the bowl and green beans.  Serve over rice.  Sprinkle with green onions and peanuts.

Recipe Source: http://allrecipes.com/search/results/?wt=erins%20indonesian%20chicken&sort=re

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Golden Baked Onions




OK.....I first acknowledge this is not my photo!!!  I made these for Thanksgiving and forgot to take a photo.

I must say, you have to be an aficionado of onions to make this recipe.  And I am.  Any recipe calling for onions, I add extra.  My favorite pizza? Onion, onion, onion, and tomato (the best I've ever had is at Iriana's in Little Rock, AR).  My favorite onion (used almost exclusively) is the sweet onion (Vidalia, Walla Walla, Texas 1015).  I should start an onion trivia game.

This recipe calls for "brown onions."  I'd never heard of that.  But comments below the original recipe asked "Does this mean yellow onions or shallots?" with a resounding "NO!...it means brown onions."   But further searching had people saying that yellow onions are also called brown onions.  So that's what I used (while a sweet onion would have been just as good.)

It was a nice addition to the Thanksgiving table.  Leftovers heated up nicely and were just as good as freshly baked.

GOLDEN BAKED ONIONS  (6 servings)

6 brown onions, peeled and halved
1 Tbsp EVOO
S&P
1 cup (250 ml) regular or heavy cream
1 Tbsp thyme leaves
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup (50 g) finely grated regular or smoked mozzarella
1/2 cup (50 g) finely grated Gruyere (or Swiss or smoked provolone)

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Place the onions, cut-side up, in a greased baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours.  Uncover and bake for another 15 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Combine the cream, thyme, mustard, and cheeses and spoon over the onions.  Bake for a further 15-20 minutes or until the onions are golden.

NOTE:  I did the first 1 1/2 hours of baking ahead of time (earlier that day) and then finished the last two baking steps when baking the dressing.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.splendidtable.org/recipes/golden-baked-onions

Monday, November 30, 2015

Coconut Shrimp Curry


After several days of leftover turkey, we needed a change.  Shrimp....curry....rice.  Poifect!!!  

I had picked up a pineapple on sale ($1!!!) and added a simple Asian-dressed salad (recipe below).  Easy, quick, delicious.

COCONUT SHRIMP CURRY (6 servings)

For the shrimp marinade:
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/5 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
1-2 pounds shrimp

For the sauce:
1 Tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion (any color) finely chopped
1/2-1 red pepper, sliced, optional
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger (about 1" peeled piece of ginger)
S&P to taste
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp curry powder
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can coconut milk, light or regular
chopped cilantro, to taste


Hot cooked rice, for serving

For the simple shrimp marinade, toss the shrimp with the S&P, cayenne, and lemon juice in a resealable large bag or in a bowl.  Refrigerate 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium-sized pot, heat the canola oil over medium heat until rippling and hot.  Add the onion and pepper and cook 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the S&P, ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric and curry powder.  Continue cooking over medium heat, until the mixture is very fragrant and the onion is soft and translucent, about 5-7 minutes.  Add the undrained tomatoes to the pot and cook, stirring and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom, for about 1 minute.  Increase the heat to medium-high and simmer for 5-10 minutes, stirring often.  Add the coconut milk, stirring to combine mixture to a simmer and cook until the shrimp are curled, lightly pink and cooked through, 2-4 minutes.  Stir in cilantro.  

Serve over hot, cooked rice.

Recipe Source:  http://www.melskitchencafe.com/coconut-shrimp-curry-silpat-giveaway/

ASIAN TOSSED SALAD (mix as much/little as you like)

Chopped romaine
small broccoli florets
crumbled (uncooked) ramen noodles
green onions
Asian salad dressing (homemade {Google for your favorite recipe} or store-bought)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

French Onion Soup


Getting ready for Thanksgiving?  I started today by making my fresh make-ahead green bean casserole (see  https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=4499351947215440526;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=3;src=link ) and Best Broccoli Salad (see https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=5156296508549413823;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=2;src=linkSo the next few days I'll be making easy dinners....tonight: Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken.

But back today's recipe.  I've run the gamut on making French Onion Soup.  From roasting beef bones and making homemade beef stock to the simplest of recipes.  This is absolutely on the easy end and ends in great results.  I have a Ninja 3-in-1 cooker (which I absolutely love....it combines a stovetop cooker and a slow cooker), but I've adjusted it so you can do the first step on the stove and then slow cook it on the stovetop or in a crock pot.

FRENCH ONION SOUP (4 servings)

1/4 cup butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced (I always use sweet onions)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
S&P
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup AP flour
1 container (32 oz) beef stock
12 oven-baked Italian toasts
1/2 pound shredded Gruyere cheese

Place butter in stock pot.  Heat until butter is melted.  Add onions, thyme, rosemary, and S&P.  Cook uncovered 15 minutes or until onions are very tender, stirring occasionally.  Stir in brandy and flour.  Cook uncovered one minute or until mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally.

Place stock into pot.  Season with S&P.  Simmer on low for about an hour or in the crock pot on HIGH for 1-2 hours.  Cover and cook.

Please three toasts into four soup bowls.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Scoop soup over cheese-topped toasts

or

Ladle soup into broil-proof bowls.  Top with toasts and then cheese.  Place under broiler until cheese is bubbly and golden.

Recipe Source:  Ninja: Cooking Easier, Healthier, and Better, 2014, p. 95

Monday, November 23, 2015

Herb and Caper Crusted Salmon


I had a full package of fresh dill I wanted to use before it went bad and it just so happened that I had this salmon recipe I'd been waiting to try.  I found this at the Iowa Girl Eats website where she just happened to have a dill and sour cream potato recipe.  So I decided to make an entire dinner using the fresh dill.

I won't list the mashed potato recipe (although you can find it here http://iowagirleats.com/2015/11/11/sour-cream-and-dill-mashed-potatoes/ if you need a recipe).  And then I just cooked from sliced carrots and added some butter and fresh dill.  All-in-all, it came together pretty quickly and was a really nice dinner.

HERB and CAPER CRUSTED SALMON (4 servings)

1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 Tbsp fresh dill, chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp drained capers
zest of 1 lemon
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
S&P
pinch red chili pepper flakes
EVOO
4 (4-6 oz) salmon fillets

Preheat oven to 400F then line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick spray.  Set aside.

Add parsley leaves, dill, capers, lemon zest, garlic, S&P, and red chili pepper flakes to the center of a large cutting board.  Chop until the ingredients are finely minced then slice the lemon into wedges and squeeze a bit of lemon juice into the mixture to moisten.

Rub salmon fillets with olive oil then season generously with S&P.  Press the top and sides of each fillet into the herb mixture to create an even crust then place on prepared baking sheet.  Bake (about 10 minutes per inch of salmon at the thickest point) then transfer salmon fillets to plates and squeeze a bit more lemon juice on top right before serving.

Recipe Source: http://iowagirleats.com/2015/11/09/herb-and-caper-crusted-salmon/

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Muffin: Before and After


BEFORE



AFTER

We've been putting off having Muffin groomed because her condition is failing rapidly.  But it had been over a year since she'd been groomed and she was so full of mats, even after frequent brushing.

Always before (although she hated to be bathed, groomed, and God Forbid!!!! nails cut), she seemed to get a new gitty-up in her go afterwards.  Not this time.  Bless her heart....16 1/2 years old (at her size/weight, her life-span is estimated to be about 11-12 years...her litter mate and sister, Spot, died on November 26, 2012....see post https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=8514616033260075861#editor/target=post;postID=7820046978261866782;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=26;src=link ).  She has been a trooper, but I fear she is not long for this world.    She is always by my side and follows me everywhere. She is my bestest friend and I just can't imagine home without her.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Asparagus Tossed Salad


Here's a basic, simple side salad that will go with just about anything.  Three ingredients in the salad.  Make it when you can find a sale on asparagus (I got some for $1.50/lb last week!)

But it's the salad dressing that makes it.  Make extra and keep it on hand....it'll keep for months and then you can toss this simple salad after simply steaming the asparagus and carrots (it's similar to the Summer Orange Salad I make all summer long, see 6/17/15 post here.

This original recipe called for butter lettuce, which I used, but I do like my lettuce crunchy, so next time I'll use romaine.  Go with what you like.  Just go with this recipe.

ASPARAGUS TOSSED SALAD (8 servings)

2 medium carrot, sliced
1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into 1" pieces
8 cups torn butter or romaine lettuce

Orange Ginger Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
4 1/2 tsp EVOO or canola oil
1 Tbsp white wine or cider vinegar
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp grated orange peel
1/8 tsp salt

Steam asparagus until crisp-tender (microwave or oven top).  Same with carrots.

In a salad bowl, combine lettuce, carrots, and asparagus.

For the dressing:

Combine ingredients and whisk or shake until combined.

Drizzle dressing over salad and toss to coat.  Serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.food.com/recipe/asparagus-tossed-salad-190204


Friday, November 20, 2015

Artichoke Prosciutto Gratin


OK....there is really no way for me to oversell this appetizer.  It is out-of-this-world.  Utterly delicious.  It is an upscale version of the old artichoke (and usually spinach) dip.  It's super-simple to make and doesn't take long to cook.

A few things to say about the ingredients.  First and foremost important ingredient to me is the artichoke.  Every recipe I have ever used calls for artichoke hearts.  Personally, I just don't like them.....they always have a few prickly leaves on them that you end up spitting out.  I have discovered artichoke bottoms which are all lucious meat.  I can't always find them so I asked the manager at our local Publix market to see if he could order thing.  Bingo! (I just love Publix!)  The brand they found for me is Reese's.  If you can get them, try the bottoms....so much better and less wasted/discarded parts.

The next is mayo.  I am a committed Hellman's (Best Foods west of the Rockies) mayo person.  As is most of the mayo-consuming chefs (I've only heard one who preferred Duke's...I tried it....not even the the ballpark, in my humble opinion).

Lastly, fresh sage.  If you're going to indulge in the dip, you must use fresh sage (if you're making cornbread sage dressing for Thanksgiving, save a few leaves for this recipe).  It makes all the difference.  I wouldn't bother to make it if I only had dried sage to use.

Oh, one more thing....the crostini.  I usually use a good quality baguette (Panera is easily found).  I cut the baguette into about 1/4" to 1/2" thick slices.  Place on a baking dish and brush with extra-virgin olive oil.  Bake at 325F.....check at about 15 minutes.  I usually turn them over and turn the heat off until they are at the crunchiness I like.  I'll make the entire baguette and keep leftovers in a freezer bag in the freezer.  They keep for months for all the other dips, tapenades, and spreads you need over this wonderful autumn/winter holiday/football season.

ARTICHOKE PROSCIUTTO GRATIN (I made an entire batch and then ended up splitting the batch in two {it will keep for at least a week in the fridge} making two appetizer dishes each which served the two of us)

1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts or bottoms (preferably bottoms), about 1 cup chopped
4-6 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, diced
1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese
3/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese
3/4 cup Hellman's mayo
1/4 cup heavy cream
3 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped
Toasted slivered almonds

Mix all ingredients.  Spoon into a baking dish and bake in a 350F degree oven until bubbly (I stirred mine about halfway through to make sure it was warmed all the way through) until bubbly.  Top with toasted almonds.  Serve with crostini.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Cheesy Mushroom and Broccoli Quinoa Casserole


Remember the Broccoli and Cheese Casserole of yesteryear?  White rice, cream-of-something soup, processed American cheese, probably frozen broccoli?

Welcome to the 21st century!  This is an updated "healthified" version of that family staple and church-ladies cookbooks.  Bring it back to the table!  Wonderful quinoa, fresh vegetables, and an easy sauce to bind it together.  Es muy delicioso!!!

CHEESY MUSHROOM and BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE (6 servings)

3 3/4 cups chicken broth, divided
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
2 cups small broccoli florets
4 Tbsp butter, divided
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 shallot or 1/4 small onion, chopped
S&P
3 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 Tbsp AP flour
1 cup milk (regular or 2%)
3 oz shredded Jack cheese
3 oz shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.  Spray an 8x8 baking dish with nonstick spray then place on top of a baking sheet and set aside.

Bring 2 3/4 cups chicken broth to a boil in a medium-sized saucepan then add quinoa, place a lid on top, turn heat down to medium, and then simmer until nearly all of the liquid has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add broccoli then place lid back on top, remove from heat, and let steam for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and shallots, season with S&P, then saute until mushrooms are golden brown.  Add garlic then saute for one more minute.

Add remaining 2 Tbsp butter then sprinkle flour when melted and saute for one minute.  Slowly stream in remaining 1 cup chicken broth and milk while whisking to avoid lumps.  Season generously with S&P then bring mixture to a bubble while stirring constantly.  Turn heat down to medium then simmer until thick and bubbly, 5 minutes.

Remove from heat then stir in the broccoli and quinoa, and half of the cheese then scoop mixture into prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle remaining cheese on top then bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.  Let sit for 10 minutes before scooping and serving.

Recipe Source:  http://iowagirleats.com/2015/02/23/cheesy-mushroom-broccoli-quinoa-casserole/