Thursday, November 29, 2007

A "new" recipe

Basic recipes always have surprises for me because they are new each time. Take one of the classics - a fritatta. Every time you make it, it's new because you can add new ingredients each time. It's also easy, quick, healthy, and on the cheap side because all you have to do is scrounge your fridge for veggies and left-over cooked meat.

Tonight Matt and I came home utterly exhausted after a long and fun gaming session last night and counseling tonight. I really wanted to order in but since we had gone out Tuesday night, I had to be good. What to do? No pasta sauce for spaghetti, too tired to cook tuna, I have these eggs...ah ha! Fritatta!

Ok, I'm slightly cheating because I have made this before but each time I make it it's always new because I use different ingredients. Perfect for a quick dinner (served with salad and rolls) or hearty breakfast. Enjoy making your own original creations!

from Six Ingredients or Less

6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (you can also use swiss or colby)

With wire whisk, beat first 5 ingredients until blended. Pour into a greased 1o-inch pie plate. Sprinkle cheese over top. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Makes 4 servings.

TIP: For variety, sprinkle top with parsley, ham, bacon, or sausage and cheese. Sliced vegetables and mushrooms can also be added.

(Tonight I used parsley, spicy sausage, and mushrooms.)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Oops I made it again - by Broccoli Spears

I have definitely had my fill of broccoli this week. Last week I bought two bags of broccoli salad mix for Thanksgiving dinner and we ended up only using one. And since it was Thanksgiving, nobody wanted to waste their stomach space on boring green vegetables so Don and I ended up taking most of it home with us and have been munching away at it for the last week. We definitely are not up for polishing off another bag of broccoli salad by ourselves so I will serve the other one tonight for our gaming group and beg someone to take the leftovers home.

Also, I had forgotten about all the broccoli we already had in the fridge, so I didn't think to swap out this new recipe for Broccoli Spears that was queued up in my meal plan for something else when I did my grocery shopping over the weekend. But it worked out well anyway. The cooking method was so desperately easy, even easier than steaming broccoli as it uses up less dishes and is easier to clean up afterwards. Also, it has you peel the broccoli stems with a vegetable peeler so that the spears are not too tough and they soak up the flavor better. Despite the recent overdose on these little green bouquets, I still found this recipe quite enjoyable. In fact, it might be my favorite broccoli recipe to date. I'm guessing Don would disagree with me as he bit off all the broccoli heads and left all the spears behind on his plate like pitiful little decapitated corpses. Looks like my man is not a fan of Spears - neither of the Brittany or the Broccoli variety.

I give this recipe five out of five stars based on taste, ease of preparation, and economical ingredients.

Garlicky Lemon Broccoli


1 1/2 pounds broccoli spears
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice


Peel broccoli stems using a vegetable peeler. Combine broccoli and water in a large nonstick skillet; cover and cook over medium-high heat 6 minutes or until crisp-tender. Remove broccoli from pan; wipe pan with a paper towel.

Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broccoli, and toss to coat. Sprinkle broccoli mixture with rind; drizzle with lemon juice.


4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 67(34% from fat); FAT 2.5g (sat 1.3g,mono 0.6g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 5.2g; CHOLESTEROL 5mg; CALCIUM 85mg; SODIUM 212mg; FIBER 5.1g; IRON 1.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 9.6g

Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2003

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Joy of Squash

I'm finally jumping on the bandwagon, inspired by previous posts, and ready to strut my stuff in the kitchen alongside the rest of the Cooking Kama Sutras.

After making the most of all of my Thanksgiving leftovers, I made a quick run to Costco this past weekend to pick up a couple of things. Much to my delight I discovered a new item in stock: Fresh Butternut Squash Ravioli. The package describes it as "Ravioli stuffed with a rich blend of Butternut Squash, Sage and Fesh Cheeses." I definitely wanted to give this a try! Our Costco also carries a fresh Spinach and Cheese Ravioli that is delicious, and I was hoping this flavor would turn out to be an equal hit. Indeed it was!

My dilemna, however, was this: What kind of sauce should I pair it with? Truth be told, I am not much of a tomato sauce enthusiast. So, this did not sound like a match that would help accentuate the flavor of the squash. A cream sauce of some sort would probably have been good--the package itself provides a recipe for mushroom alfredo; however, I didn't have the ingredients for such an option. Instead, I scavenged around and came up with a homemade sauce of sundried tomatoes, garlic, basil and spinach, cooked in olive oil. It turned out to be quite tasty, as these are all some of my favorite ingredients!

Here is a picture of the sauce in its final stages of cooking:

The entire meal was relatively quick and easy to make. The pasta itself cooks in 4-5 minutes, and the sauce took about 10 minutes. All of the ingredients I used in the sauce were in "ready to use" form, so this minimized any preparation time. I used Julienne Sundried Tomatoes (the kind that come in an oil-packed jar), and fresh cubes of Crushed Garlic Cloves and Fresh Chopped Basil (available from Trader Joes in the frozen section--see photos at the bottom of this post), and fresh chopped spinach that I had stored in a ziplock bag in the freezer--and I simply mixed them all together in an Olive Oil base.

The butternut squash was deliciously sweet smooth, and I loved the particular combination of pairing it with the taste and texture of the sundried tomatoes. The leftovers today were equally tasty! Here is the finished product:

Sundried Tomato and Garlic Sauce with Spinach and Basil

(Measurements are approximate.)

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a skillet on Medium heat

Add the following ingredients:

  • 2 cloves of garlic (I used 2 frozen cubes of crushed garlic from Trader Joes)
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh chopped basil (I used 2 cubes of frozen chopped basil from Trader Joes)
  • 1/4 cup of julienne sundried tomatoes (oil packed)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chopped spinach

Keep the heat turned down to a simmer in order to avoid oil splatter. Warm on stove until pasta is ready.

Basil and Garlic cubes (each packaged separately; cilantro is also available):

The Heat is On!

When our friends Jeremy and Katy dropped off their dog Max at our house on Thursday morning, they were going pretty much nonstop until they picked him up again at our house last night. Given their hectic schedules and the fact that we missed them while they were away, I decided to invite them to stay for dinner with us rather than just grabbing the dog and heading home. I figured a hot prepared meal would be a nice way to finish a long weekend since they were probably tired and wouldn't have much time or energy for grocery shopping and cooking. I warned them that the meal I was preparing was not going to be anything fancy but would hit the spot nonetheless.

I ended up serving Spicy Chicken Soup with Monterey Jack and Roasted Red Pepper Quesadillas which is the perfect accompaniment for this meal. Now, the best thing about this meal is that the entire thing can be prepared start to finish in about 15 minutes. Now that's what I call quick and easy. You can adjust the spice by adding more or less adobo chiles. Truthfully, I wish I had added a couple more chiles last night because it was not as spicy as usual. I admit that I have made this before, but since they seemed to be such big fans, I told Jeremy and Katy I would post it on the blog nonetheless.

Spicy Chicken Soup

Serve with quesadillas - suggested fillings are monterey jack cheese and slices of roasted red peppers.


1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast strips (such as Louis Rich; about 12 ounces)
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes and green chiles, undrained (such as Del Monte)
1 (11-ounce) can whole-kernel corn with sweet peppers, drained


Remove 1 chile from can; reserve the remaining chiles and sauce for another use. Mince chile.

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onions, garlic, and cumin; saute 4 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Stir in minced chile, chicken, broth, tomatoes, and corn. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes.


4 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 358(30% from fat); FAT 11.8g (sat 2.8g,mono 4.4g,poly 2g); PROTEIN 40.6g; CHOLESTEROL 95mg; CALCIUM 65mg; SODIUM 1536mg; FIBER 4.9g; IRON 2.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.3g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2001

Monday, November 26, 2007

From my heart straight to my thighs

But totally worth it and a big hit at potlucks! The title says it all. These are heaven. Easily made up to a day ahead, best with freshly made whipped cream. An excellent subsitute for pumpkin pie (but doesn't replace it).

CKS note: If making the banana version, I reccomend cutting the sugar in half as the natural sugar from the bananas makes it quite sweet already.

Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cakes
from Paula Deen at The Food Network


1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 egg 8 tablespoons butter, melted

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.

To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.

Serve with fresh whipped cream.


For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.

For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.

Sunday Stew

By Sunday afternoon the Thanksgiving leftovers were gone and it was time to start thinking about what to make for dinner. As always, I spent a good portion of my "vacation" doing household chores and errands in my lifelong quest to getting organized. Part of that included some fun time spent hunting for new and interesting recipes and making a meal plan for the week. Actually I got a little ambitious and sketched out a rough plan for the rest of the month! But we'll see how closely I stick to it.

The recipe I decided to try last night was this Autumn Cranberry Beef Stew from Cooking Light. The recipe was really tasty but I think the title is a little misleading. I don't know if maybe I simmered it too high but all the broth cooked out of mine and in the end it was more like a shredded beef served over noodles than a stew. But that's o.k. since as the broth evaporated it left behind all of it's intense flavoring which the meat soaked right up. It made for a nice hearty Sunday evening meal and will be nice leftovers for lunch the next couple of days. Though it is super easy to make, it does have a long cooking time so this is best made on a weekend. I give the recipe four out of five stars and it's going in my make again cookbook. This recipe stands well on it's own but if you want to round it out a little, it would be really good served with steamed broccoli on the side.

Autumn Cranberry Beef Stew


1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 (12-ounce) Guinness Stout
1 (10-ounce) package frozen pearl onions, thawed
1 (8-ounce) package button mushrooms, quartered
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
8 cups cooked egg noodles (about 1 pound)
Chopped fresh thyme (optional)


Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl; sprinkle over beef. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook 6 minutes, turning to brown on all sides. Add chopped onion, broth, bay leaves, and stout; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 hours or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in pearl onions and mushrooms; cook, covered, 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine 1/4 cup water and flour in a small bowl. Add flour mixture and cranberry sauce to pan. Cook 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Serve with noodles. Garnish with fresh thyme, if desired.


10 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup stew and 3/4 cup noodles)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 479(27% from fat); FAT 14.6g (sat 4.8g,mono 6.3g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 39.5g; CHOLESTEROL 138mg; CALCIUM 35mg; SODIUM 239mg; FIBER 2.6g; IRON 6.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.7g

Christina Wilson, Lansdowne, Pennsylvania , Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Cranberry Jello Salad

I hope everyone enjoyed their Thanksgiving Feasts. We were invited to spend the day with friends and the hostess covered the gammet of traditional Turkey Day treats from the 20 pound organic free range turkey to loaded mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes, relish tray, green bean casserole, steamed broccoli, fresh rolls and a lovely selection of appetizers including a made from scratch homemade cheese ball. Delicious! I will have to get the recipe from her and see if she minds me posting it on the blog.

My contribution to the meal was embarassingly simple but a favorite nonetheless - my mother's Cranberry Jello Salad. It is the ultimate potluck dish as it does not have to be kept warm, can be made ahead of time, and preserves and travels well.

Cranberry Jello Salad
From my mother's Recipe Box

6 ounce package Raspberry Jello
2 Cups Hot Water
1 Cup Cold Water
1 small can mandarin oranges drained
1 small can crushed pineapple drained
1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 cup chopped walnuts

Dissolve Jello in 2 cups hot water. Once dissolved, add Cold water and stir. Add remaining four ingredients and stir thoroughly. It's easier if you stir the cranberry sauce before adding it so that it doesn't clump together. Cover with saran wrap and refrigerate until set.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

You Had Me at Margarita

Since we were not going to be able to get together for gaming this week with everyone leaving town for the holidays, we decided to just have an informal get-together-and-hang-out night at our house on Tuesday. It was my turn for the main dish, and since I am trying to trim a few pounds I decided to see if I could find a new salmon recipe. The first one that caught my eye for obvious reasons was this recipe from Cooking Light for Margarita Salmon. It was fantastic! It is a nice easy recipe to feed a crowd and quite reasonable too if you get your salmon from Costco (2 1/2 pounds for 13 bucks!). The citrusy marinade infused the entire fish and was a nice alternative to some of the other balsamic or soy sauce based marinades I tend to use with salmon. The recipe recommends serving it over cooked pasta but I served it over spring salad greens and I thought that was much better. It also stands well on it's own with just the fillet. I will definitely make this again. I give it 4 out of 5 stars all together. The only negative was that my hands hurt from squeezing all the limes. This would make a very nice summertime meal.

Margarita Salmon


1 teaspoon grated lime rind
3 tablespoons fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon tequila
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
Cooking spray
Lime slices (optional)


Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish to bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 20 minutes.

While fish is marinating, cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm. Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade.

Preheat broiler.

Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray; broil 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork, basting occasionally with reserved marinade. Serve over pasta. Garnish with lime slices, if desired.


4 servings (serving size: 1 fillet and 1 cup pasta)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 520(30% from fat); FAT 17.3g (sat 2.9g,mono 7.5g,poly 4.5g); PROTEIN 42.2g; CHOLESTEROL 111mg; CALCIUM 23mg; SODIUM 381mg; FIBER 1.4g; IRON 0.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 45.9g

Cooking Light, JUNE 1999

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Not-so Yummy

It's unfortunate that when I think of the finishing product, the only word that goes through my head is "Blech!" Matt and I were not impressed with this dish at all and I was miffed because I was really excited about it. It was not a matter of fact, it was just the opposite. EW. The flavors just didn't meld with the fish at all, and after a few bites we tossed out any leftovers. I will not be trying this recipe again, but thought I would post it anyway.

I am looking forward to Thanksgiving where I will not have to think about cooking for a few days. :)

Crispy Oven Fried Fish


1 pound fresh or frozen skinless fish fillets, 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick
1/4 cup milk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup fine dry bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned bread crumbs)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon dried dillweed
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons butter, melted


1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Cut into four serving-size pieces, if necessary. Measure thickness of fish; set aside. Place milk in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. In a third shallow dish combine bread crumbs, cheese, dillweed, and pepper. Add melted butter; stir until combined.

2. Dip fish in milk; coat with flour. Dip again in milk, then in crumb mixture to coat all sides. Place fish on a greased baking sheet. Bake, uncovered, in a 450 degree F oven for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork.

Makes 4 servings

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Words cannot describe how much I love desert. I think it's why I ganied so much weight after we got married and I was baking a few times a week. I especially loved baking in the winter months. There was something about making something sweet when it was cold and dark outside...I'm not sure that I can explain it!

Well after moving to CA and experiencing the 80 degree winters, I only bake maybe once or twice a month as it's not really that cold, and when I do feel that it's cold, I just make a warm dinner dish instead of cookies, cakes, etc. A little healthier and my sweet tooth is staisfied by a satsuma or glass of juice.

Tonight, however, my sweet tooth is in for a treat! Tonight is gaming night, and as we are continuing our new tradition of a potluck, I volunteered to bring dessert. I mentioned how much I missed making cheesecake to which Cindy and Katy said "ooooooooo, yummmmmmmmmm" and Jeremy (Katy's hubby) said "You guys are just trying to fatten me up, huh?" I had a great cheesecake recipe from Better Homes and Gardens but wanted to find something new. Thanks to, I found a wonderful, seasonal cheesecake that is sure to please our group.

I did not make the crust as I have no idea where to find wheatmeal biscuit crumbs and I thought my food processor was broken (thankfully it's not). I used a store-bought crust instead and had enough of the mix left over that I can probably make a few mini-cheesecakes next week. If you do make the crust, please let me know how it turns out. I also left out the topping as I also don't know where to find Sugared Rose Petals.

I can't emphasize this enough: softened cream cheese really does make all the difference! It makes the start of making a cheesecake much easier.

Tipsy Eggnog Cheesecake

You can store Sugared Rose Petals in an airtight container several months.


2 cups wheatmeal biscuit crumbs
1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
5 large eggs
3/4 cup canned or homemade eggnog
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup brandy
Sugared Rose Petals (optional)


Combine first 4 ingredients; stir well. Firmly press crumb mixture onto bottom and 1 1/2" up sides of a lightly greased 9" springform pan. Bake at 325° for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove to a wire rack; let cool.

Beat cream cheese at medium speed of an electric mixer until creamy; gradually add 1 cup sugar and cornstarch, beating well. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in eggnog, rum, and brandy. Pour batter into prepared crust.

Bake at 325° for 1 hour. (Center will be soft.) Remove from oven and gently run a knife around edge of pan to release cheesecake from sides; return to oven. Turn oven off; leave cheesecake in oven, with oven door partially opened, 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature in pan on a wire rack. Cover and chill 8 hours.

Remove sides of pan and top cheesecake with Sugared Rose Petals, if desired.

Yield: one 9" cheesecake

Oxmoor House, JANUARY 1995

Fancy Feast... and I'm not talking cat food

O.K. Last night I admit that even I bit off a little more than I could chew. I saw this incredible spread in my Cooking Light October magazine and I really wanted to give it a try: Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Chunky Spiced Applesauce and Swiss Baked Potatoes. Everything was delicious and really fun to make, but waaaaaaaay too much work for a week night. I slaved in the kitchen for a few hours and finally was ready to plate the meal at 8:30 p.m. By that time Don and I were both exhausted from the day and barely had the stamina to shovel it down and box up the leftovers before our heads hit the pillows. I was happy that I had already done most of the dishes as I went along but this was one of those nights where the rest will just have to sit in the sink until I have time to get to them. Luckily though, this meal makes the best kind of leftovers and it makes a lot of food so Don and I are set on our lunches for the next few days.

I would definitely make this spread again, just next time it will be on a night of the weekend variety. All three of these dishes work really well together. Incidentally, I have never been a huge fan of applesauce but this is hands down the best I have ever tasted. I am sure it has to do with the bag of whole fresh cranberries included in the ingredients. The recipe also says to mix up your apples for a more developed flavor. I used a combination of MacIntosh, Golden Delicious, and Pink Lady. We both ate the applesauce on top of the pork rather than on the side. I also prepared the brine for the pork in the morning before I left for work so that it had all day to marinade and it stayed nice and moist during the baking. This is also the first time I have ever made my own scalloped potatoes but it surely will not be my last! This is a meal that would be really fun to make for guests as it prepares ample proportions, amazing aromas, and highlights the best of home cooking. For a special treat, serve with Kelsey Vineyards Apple Merlot Wine or Apple Chardoney. Camille can tell you how to order their wines since she is a wine club member there.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin

When the weather is mild, Hunt grills the pork outdoors. If it's too cold to grill, you can roast the tenderloins at 425° for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160°; let stand 10 minutes before slicing.


1 cup olive oil
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
2 teaspoons salt, divided
3 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, trimmed
Cooking spray


Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add 1 teaspoon salt and pork to bag; seal and shake well. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning bag occasionally.

Preheat grill.

Remove pork from bag; discard marinade. Sprinkle pork evenly with remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Place pork on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink). Let stand 10 minutes before slicing thinly.


14 servings (serving size: 3 ounces pork)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 176(35% from fat); FAT 6.9g (sat 1.9g,mono 3.7g,poly 0.6g); PROTEIN 25.7g; CHOLESTEROL 72mg; CALCIUM 8mg; SODIUM 234mg; FIBER 0.1g; IRON 1.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 1.1g

Barbara Lauterbach , Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007

Chunky Spiced Applesauce

Cranberries lend this applesauce an appealing rosiness. For best flavor, use a variety of apples, such as Golden Delicious, Braeburn, Cortland, and Rome. Prepare it up to one day ahead. Serve with Grilled Pork Tenderloin.


10 cup cubed peeled apple (about 3 pounds)
1/2 lemon
2 cups fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch fresh grated nutmeg


Place apple in a large bowl; cover with cold water. Squeeze juice from lemon half into bowl; place lemon half in bowl. Set aside.

Combine cranberries and remaining ingredients in a Dutch oven; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook 3 minutes or until cranberries pop.

Drain apple; discard lemon. Add apple to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 25 minutes or until apple is soft. Uncover, bring to a boil, and cook 15 minutes. Mash apple mixture with a potato masher. Pour into serving dish; cover and chill at least 2 hours.


7 cups (serving size: about 1/2 cup)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 124(0.0% from fat); FAT 0.2g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.1g); PROTEIN 0.3g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 14mg; SODIUM 2mg; FIBER 2.6g; IRON 0.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.5g

Barbara Lauterbach , Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007

Swiss Baked Potatoes

This homey gratin partners nicely with pork or other grilled meats. Dotting the top with butter adds richness.


6 baking potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced (about 3 1/2 pounds)
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups thinly sliced onion (about 1 medium)
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Gruyère cheese
2 tablespoons butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
3/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium beef broth


Preheat oven to 375°.

Arrange one-third of potato slices in the bottom of a shallow 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with one-third of onion slices. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Sprinkle with one-third of cheese. Repeat layers twice, ending with cheese. Dot with butter. Pour broth over potato mixture. Coat top layer with cooking spray. Cover with foil, and bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 30 minutes or until tender.


12 servings (serving size: 2/3 cup)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 106(30% from fat); FAT 3.5g (sat 2.1g,mono 1g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 3.2g; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 58mg; SODIUM 208mg; FIBER 1.6g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.9g

Barbara Lauterbach , Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

A Cauliflower Roast

When I am thinking of sides off the top of my head I usually end up with something green - salad, broccoli, green beans. Whoever thinks to make Cauliflower as its own dish? Don and I have very different feelings about cauliflower. I consider roasted cauliflower a special treat since it's a little on the spendy side and we don't have it all that often. Don thinks it's about as exciting as eating plain oatmeal. He does not have anything against cauliflower per say - he likes it raw and in salads - but like many cooked vegetables he usually finds them a bit boring. And as he puts it, "I like my boring vegetables to be exceptional." So we are always on the look out (and by "we" I mean "I") for some new and exciting twist that will transform our boring vegetables from blah to hoorah.

I will admit that this recipe had a lot of potential, but at the end of a long night (after I had already walked the dogs, run for 45 minutes on my treadmill, showered, stretched, did the dishes, spent 45 minutes cooking the rest of the meal, and reset our hyper sensitive kitchen fire alarm that goes off every night when I'm cooking 8 times and finally covered it with a towel and a rubber band) I got a bit lazy at the end and left out a few ingredients. After roasting the cauliflower I tossed it with a bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice, capers and red chili flakes, but left out the breadcrumbs, anchovies, parsley and garlic. Don and I both felt that, as prepared, it was quite edible but nothing special (3 out of 5 stars) - something I would not mind making again but not anything that we would ever crave or really look forward to. But having tasted the base of the recipe, we are both quite curious - particularly Don - to see how this would turn out in the full version - especially with the anchovies. If anyone decides to give this a try, please let us know how it turns out. Otherwise, we will probably try it again but not anytime too soon.

Recipe comes courtesy of Sunset Magazine via

Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Bread Crumbs


2 heads cauliflower (about 3 lb.)
1/4 cup olive oil
About 1/4 teaspoon salt
4 slices (about 3 by 4 in. and 1/2 in. thick) Italian-style white bread such as pane pugliese
1 clove garlic, peeled
6 canned anchovy fillets, drained
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 teaspoon hot chili flakes


1. Rinse cauliflower; cut into quarters. Cut off and discard leaves and cores; cut quarters into 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick slices.

2. In a 12- by 17-inch baking pan, mix cauliflower with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spoon half the mixture into another 12- by 17-inch pan and spread mixture in both pans level.

3. Roast in a 450° regular or convection oven until cauliflower is browned on the edges and tender when pierced, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, toast bread slices. Rub one side of each with garlic clove; discard any remaining garlic. Let bread cool, then tear into 1-inch chunks. In a food processor or blender, whirl to coarse crumbs.

5. In a large bowl, mash anchovies with lemon juice to a coarse paste. Add cauliflower, parsley, capers, hot chili flakes, and bread crumbs, and mix. Add salt to taste.


Makes 4 to 6 servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 143(63% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 1.4g); PROTEIN 3.9g; CHOLESTEROL 2.2mg; SODIUM 444mg; FIBER 2.6g; CARBOHYDRATE 11g

Sunset, NOVEMBER 2001

Hunting for Cherry Peppers

What drew me to this recipe was the hot Cherry Peppers - a favorite treat of mine ever since we discovered the sausage and cherry pepper pizza at La Fiamma's woodburning oven pizza place in Bellingham, Washington. Unfortunately, I had to go to two different stores, and then called four more before I finally found the darn things and I do not even consider Cherry Peppers that exotic of an ingredient. It is a continuous gripe that I have about grocery shopping here. You would think that in this massive metropolitan you would be able to get just about any specialty food item that you could possibly think of, but it is actually a lot more difficult that you realize. Because real estate is so expensive, and the city is so crowded, though there may be 10 different grocery stores in a one mile radius, they are all tiny (by Washington suburbia standards) and packed onto little lots so that they do not have room to stock as much as I am used to. I tried Trader Joe's, two different Ralph's grocery stores, Whole Foods Market, and even the Armenian Market and Deli before I finally found these beloved peppers at Gelson's Market on Riverside in Sherman Oaks. The guy on the phone was pretty surprised when I started whooping and cheering on the phone in response to his verification that they did carry them. After all, for a few short hours there, I thought I was going to have to live a cherry pepperless life until we migrated from California some day.

Despite the secret ingredient, the recipe really was not spicy. All of the veggies and peppers cooked down and caramelized into a really hearty meal. The chicken thighs were also a nice change from normal chicken breasts. Don was quite impressed with the meal and said it really hit the spot after a very long and stressful day. This recipe is going to be filed under easy weeknight comfort food in our household. You can find it courtesy of Real Simple Magazine on

Chicken Thighs Braised in Garlic and White Wine


2 teaspoons dried oregano
Kosher salt and pepper
8 small chicken thighs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small yellow onions, quartered
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 jarred hot cherry peppers, seeded and roughly chopped, plus 3 tablespoons of the brine
1 cup dry white wine
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup long-grain white rice


In a small bowl, combine the oregano, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, season with the spice mixture, and dredge in the flour.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat and brown the chicken, 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.

Add the onions to the pot and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cherry peppers and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the pepper brine, wine, and broth and bring to a boil. Return the chicken to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, until the chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the package directions. Divide among individual bowls and spoon the chicken and sauce over it.


Makes 4 servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 675(37% from fat); FAT 28g ; SUGAR 5g; PROTEIN 31g; CHOLESTEROL 113mg; SODIUM 960mg; FIBER 2g; CARBOHYDRATE 64g

Kate Merker , Real Simple, SEPTEMBER 2007

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not Your Everyday Boring Chicken Recipe

Last night's new recipes were two for two. I thought it would be hard to top the salad but the main dish swooped in unexpectedly and stole the spotlight. I made Chicken Breast Stuffed with Garlic and Herbed Goat Cheese also from the October 2007 issue of Cooking Light. This recipe alone was worth the entire cost of the magazine (even though you can get it for free on This dish uncontestedly has squeezed its way into my top five favorite chicken recipes. (Don't ask me what the other five are but I know at least one of them is Rachael Ray's Quick Chick and Noodle Soup.) We ended up eating dinner kind of late because I forgot that it was going to take an hour to roast the garlic so did not get started as early as I should have but it was worth the wait. We will definitely have this recipe again. And again. And again.

Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Garlic and Herbed Goat Cheese

Roasting the garlic mellows its bite and gives the stuffing a subtle hint of flavor. Stuff the chicken breasts up to a day ahead, refrigerate, and cook them just before guests arrive. Garnish each plate with a rosemary sprig.


1 whole garlic head
1/3 cup (3 ounces) goat cheese with herbs, softened
6 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons olive oil


Preheat oven to 350°.

Remove white papery skin from garlic head (do not peel or separate the cloves). Wrap head in foil. Bake at 350° for 1 hour; cool 10 minutes. Separate cloves; squeeze to extract garlic pulp. Discard skins. Combine garlic pulp and cheese, stirring well; set aside.

Cut a horizontal slit through thickest portion of each chicken breast half to form a pocket. Stuff about 4 teaspoons cheese mixture into each pocket. Sprinkle chicken evenly on both sides with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Turn chicken over. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 165°; let stand 5 minutes.


6 servings (serving size: 1 stuffed chicken breast half)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 238(31% from fat); FAT 8.1g (sat 3.3g,mono 2.9g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 37.3g; CHOLESTEROL 101mg; CALCIUM 46mg; SODIUM 292mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 1.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 1.9g

Georgeanne Brennan , Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007

Yet Another Pear Salad Recipe

You readers may be getting bored of all these pear salad recipes I have been posting lately but I for one am not! And, I am telling you, this recipe is the best one yet. This version "pears" together firm ripe Bosc pears with crunchy juicy granny smith apples. The green and gold contrast is as aesthetically pleasing as it is delicious and it gave me a strange urge to begin decorating my house for Christmas. But the thing that really makes this recipe stand out from the other pear salad recipes that I have tried recently is the vinaigrette. Ordinary pantry spices come together in an unusual combination in this recipe (dried basil, dry mustard, paprika, and even cayenne pepper) that had my taste buds dancing in ecstasy. And do not even think about substituting a different cheese for the goat cheese. Since the vinaigrette packs in so much flavor a strong cheese like blue cheese would be too overpowering, and feta too salty. But a nice mild crumbled goat cheese adds soothing bits of creamy texture to the this autumn salad's otherwise crisp contents that puts this recipe on a whole new level of classic cuisine. You can find this recipe in the October 2007 edition of Cooking Light magazine or by visiting

Autumn Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette


2 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
Pinch of dried basil
Pinch of cayenne pepper
5 cups mixed salad greens
4 cups torn romaine lettuce
2 1/2 cups cubed Asian pear (about 1 large)
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apple (about 1 large)
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/4 cup (1 ounce) crumbled goat cheese


Combine first 9 ingredients in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Combine salad greens, romaine lettuce, Asian pear, apple, and red onion in a large bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette, and toss well to coat. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.


12 servings (serving size: about 1 cup salad and 1 teaspoon cheese)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 48(60% from fat); FAT 3.2g (sat 0.8g,mono 2g,poly 0.3g); PROTEIN 1g; CHOLESTEROL 2mg; CALCIUM 19mg; SODIUM 40mg; FIBER 1.4g; IRON 0.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 4.7g

Barbara Lauterbach , Cooking Light, OCTOBER 2007

Fishy Wishy

Inspired by going to Yoga first thing Sunday morning and our friend Rian coming over that night (who also happens to be a great cook), I decided that fish and veggies would be a great way to start off a healthy week. I went to the store and spent a pretty penny on fresh Alaskan Cod which was worth every cent. As a side dish, I tried Cindy's recipe for Fresh Corn Cakes which fitted the menu perfectly.

Unfortunately, I realized we were out of basalmic vinegar so I couldn't make the sauce. However, I just salt and peppered both sides of the fish, and it tasted just fine. If you do make it with the vinaigrette, please let me know what you think.

Fillets and Spinach with Balsamic Vinaigrette
from Better Homes and Gardens


1 pound fresh or frozen skinless haddock, cod, or other fish fillets, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
4 cups baby
spinach leaves, trimmed
1 medium
onion, cut into thin wedges
3 tablespoons
olive oil or cooking oil
1 medium red or yellow
sweet pepper, cut into thin strips
1/8 teaspoon
1/8 teaspoon
black pepper
2 tablespoons balsamic
1 tablespoon


1. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse fish; pat dry with paper towels. Cut fish into four serving-size pieces, if necessary. Set aside. Place spinach in a large bowl; set aside. In a large skillet cook onion in 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender and slightly golden. Add sweet pepper; cook and stir for 1 minute more. Remove from heat. Stir onion mixture into spinach; transfer to a serving platter. Set aside.

2. Meanwhile, sprinkle fish fillets with salt and black pepper. In same large skillet heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add fish; cook for 4 minutes. Carefully turn fish. Reduce heat to medium; cook 3 minutes more or until fish begins to flake when tested with a fork. Place fish fillets on top of wilted spinach; cover to keep warm.

3. In a small bowl stir together the balsamic vinegar and honey. Add to skillet. Cook and stir until heated through, scraping up any browned bits. To serve, spoon balsamic vinaigrette over fish and spinach.

Makes 4 servings

Turnip - Turn Out - Toss Out

I am a big proponent of the Five a Day Fruit and Veggies campaign. When doing meal planning, it's always one of the first things I consider is how to get as many different fruits and veggies into my diet as possible. It's one of the reasons I love cooking too is how many health benefits there are to getting all of those lovely greens, reds, oranges and other nature's fresh varieties of produce into your diet. I just do not understand how people can live on processed food when the fresh stuff tastes and feels soooo ... much ... better.

Lately, I have been taking it one step further and really trying to listen to my body and what fresh fruits and vegetables I am craving thinking that maybe my body will be able to detect and tell me on its own what vitamins it is deficient in and steer me to select the foods that I need. One night it was oranges so I stopped on the way home from work to pick some up and had a bowl of fresh orange slices on the side of our dinner. Another night it was fresh broccoli. I have even caught myself going across the street to the 7-11 for a banana of all things. And yesterday at the store I picked up an awesome array of fresh dried fruits from the local produce mart that my eyes spotted and my stomach said "FEED ME!"

This time of year, I also tend to crave a lot of the hearty winter vegetables. So this week I decided to try out a new recipe from Cooking light called Wine Glazed Winter Vegetables. The recipe combined one of my favorite root vegetables - Parsnips (kind of a cross between a potato and a carrot) - with a unique vegetable that I can't recall the last time I had eaten or what it even tasted like - Turnips. The honey sweetened wine glaze reduction also sounded intriguing so Sunday night we opted for an easy main dish, quick marinated Flank steak, with these hearty vegetables on the side.

I have to say that this recipe was a major disappointment. For all of it's potential, the thing that really ruined it was the cooking method. Boil the veggies until soft, drain and then return to pan with wine glaze and cook until evaporated. After trying this recipe, I'm convinced that unless it's part of a soup, these veggies were not meant to be boiled. The texture was really unpleasant and the recipe boiled most of the natural flavoring right out of the vegetables. The wine glaze did little to save the flavor either. When it comes to winter vegetables, I will stick to roasting, a cooking method that enhances the flavor rather than washes it down the drain. Like good boys and girls, Don and I ate our veggies nonperplexedly, but opted not to save the leftovers. They went down the garbage disposal too along with all that lost flavor.

For your curiosity, here is a quick rundown of the recipe.

Wine-Glazed Winter Vegetables


10 cup (1-inch) cubed peeled turnip
2 cups (1-inch) sliced peeled carrot
1 1/2 cups (1-inch) cubed peeled parsnip
8 cups water
1 cup Sauvignon Blanc or other white wine
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley


Combine first 4 ingredients in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain; return vegetables to Dutch oven. Add wine, honey, butter, and salt; bring to a boil. Cook 9 minutes or until liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with parsley.


8 servings (serving size: 1 1/4 cups)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 138(21% from fat); FAT 3.2g (sat 1.8g,mono 0.9g,poly 0.2g); PROTEIN 2.2g; CHOLESTEROL 8mg; CALCIUM 72mg; SODIUM 272mg; FIBER 5.1g; IRON 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 22.4g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2002

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Oh the craving!

My favorite thanksgiving dish is Pumpkin Pie. Hands down. I like turkey, stuffing, potatoes, and the lovely green bean casserole, but it's just not the same as Pumpkin Pie. But I'm not a pie maker. I'm a little nervous about making the crust as my Grandma Elizabeth and my Mom were excellent pie makers, the crust is simply melt-in-your mouth awesomeness. Plus it's freezing out side and I wanted to bake something besides cookies. So...what to do...craving pumpkin pie, but don't want to make the crust...buying a frozen one is just cheating...

Pumpkin bread!

Using the link to on our site, I thought they would have something unusual and easy. I was right. I made it today and it was amazing. It doesn't even need butter, but it would add another element to this chewy, heavenly, pumpkin-awesome bread.

Chewy Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread


1 package Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1 cup Trader Joe's Organic Canned Pumpkin (I used the whole thing)
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup raisins


Pre-heat oven to 350. Combine sugar, oil, eggs, and pumpkin. Stirn into pumpkin mixture package of Trader Joe's Pumpkin Bread and Muffin Mix. Add oats and raisins. Pour into a greased loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until inserted knife comes out clean. It may be necessary to cover with foil towards the end in order to bake without burning the top. (I put tin foil on about 45 minutes in and it didn't burn.)

This treat is extrememly moist inside wiht a chewy crust on top. Delicious as pieces buttered and toasted.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Swedish Thursday dinner

Well, I'm going to be the very occasional contributor to Cooking Kama Sutras and don't hold your breath over that I'll post a recipe I've never tried before.

Although I do like to cook, I'm much more inclined to bake the cookies, the cakes and the breads than try to figure out what to cook for dinner. My mother laughed at me when I proclaimed as a high-schooler I would marry someone who cooked for me. Well, I did marry someone who cooks for me, albeit not as often as we would like since we have two picky toddlers to fed as well.

But one of our tried and true meals involve Swedish pancakes (or yes, they look like little crepes) and the kids love them and usually there's always milk, egg and flour at home. Make enough pancakes and you'll get full, I promise. The trick is to learn when to flip the pancakes, just when they get golden brown on the bottom and solid on the top. The trial-and-error-ones are my personal favorite when I munch while cooking ... I use a cast iron skillet for silver dollar pancakes and a thin spatula to flip the pancakes.

Swedish Pancakes

1 1/8 cups of flour (2 1/2 dl)
2 1/2 cups of milk (6 dl)
3 eggs
4 oz of margarine (30-50 g)

Mix the flour and half the milk to an even batter with a wire whisk in a large mixing bowl. Add rest of milk, then stir in the eggs.

Melt the margarine in the pancake skillet, pour the melted butter into the pancake batter and have a paper towel handy to wipe off the melted butter from the side of the pan. (By pouring melted butter into the batter, there's no need to re-grease the pan between each pouring of batter.)

Keep the heat from med-high to medium, pour about a tablespoon per silver dollar pancake (otherwise about half cup of batter for a big pancake).

When the surface is solid (light brown), turn over and brown the other side.

Whisk the batter between each round to prevent the flour from sinking to the bottom.

Keep warm by placing under a paper towel until there's enough to serve, or if you are the mom, keep feeding the kid(s) as soon as the pancakes leave the skillet.

Enjoy with favorite jam (lingonberries, raspberries, blueberry) or applesauce or whatever strikes your fancy.

Keep any leftovers in refrigerator covered under plastic wrap. Leftovers can be reheated for 20-30 seconds in microwave or eaten cold. Excellent to pack in sack-lunches.

Part of the traditional Swedish Thursday menu is split pea soup followed by pancakes. I've yet to convince my family that this combination is a great meal, but I do enjoy my pea soup which I always make during the holiday season when there's leftover ham.

Swedish-style Yellow Pea Soup

2 cups dried yellow peas
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
3 tsp salt
1 tsp marjoram or thyme
Optional: 1 lb pork ribs or ham (cubed)

Rinse peas in a colander, pick out any peas that looked damaged, and then soak overnight in 5 cups of water a big stock pot. Discard water.

Pour 2 quarts of water over peas. Cook together with onion, salt, marjoram or thyme and ham on low heat for about 1 1/2 hours or until shells of peas split.

Serve warm, garnish with sweet mustard if so desired. Then eat your pancakes.

The soup freezes well, so the extras can always be the emergency lunch or dinner when you don't feel like more planning than thawing out a package of soup in the fridge overnight.

(Of course, I buy my peas 'Lars Own Yellow Peas' at IKEA in the food section where you can also find Swedish style mustard.)

Recipes from Vår Kokbok (pancakes) and the packaging of Lars Own Yellow Peas (soup).

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Gamer Food

Thursday is gaming night and we have so much fun! I enjoy my character and picking new spells, but I must say it's spending time with my friends and spending 4-5 hours laughing and telling stories that makes the night special. We regulary congregate over at Cindy and Don's place each Thursday night for a night of gaming.

Well now, it's also a night of food. Husbands, be prepared! Cindy, Katy, and I have turned Thursdays into a weekly potluck where each week, one is responsible for the main dish and the other two prepare sides, like dessert and salad. Tomorrow is our first try at this new tradition and I asked to be the first to bring a main dish. Considering that I have to work all day, I decided to make a lasagna that could be made ahead of time. Thanks to Google and, I found an appetizing recipe that's sure to fill the ladies' curious appetites and the guys' growling bellies.


1/2 lb. bulk Italian sausage or ground turkey
1/2 c. chopped onion
1 can (28 oz.) chopped Italian style tomatoes
14-16 oz. spaghetti sauce
2 tsp. Italian seasoning
9 lasagna noodles, uncooked
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
3 c. (12 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1. In medium skillet, brown sausage and onion; drain.

2. Stir in tomatoes, spaghetti sauce and Italian seasoning.

3. In lightly greased 12 x 8 inch baking dish; layer 1/3 each of the lasagna noodles, ricotta cheese, meat mixture, mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese; repeat layers 2 more times. Cover.

4. Refrigerate at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.

5. When ready to bake, remove cover, place in cold oven. Turn oven onto 350 degrees. Bake 45-50 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is lightly browned. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.

Cooking KS note: I used a 9x13 pan and could only layer it twice, but still used all my ricotta cheese and meat mixture. Also used 4 noodles across and there was enough room to lay one across the top too.

Little fry Stir Fry

I have known for awhile that Matt does not like Stir Frys. At all. Generally the vegetables are too crunchy, the rice is too mushy, and the meat is over cooked (don't even mention tofu). So, with some trepidation, I added a stir-fry to this week's meal plan and he wasn't exactly thrilled. Excecpt that garlic was in the title, and that was pretty cool.

I almost made soup tonight as he had a bad day, but NO! I stuck to my guns and made an amazing dinner, I must say. With a glass of Claiborne and Churchill wine at my side, this was incredibly satisfying. What was even more thrilling was that Matt loved the dish! He said to add it to the "regular" menu, and I can definitely do that. We have discovered a new family favorite!

Sorry for the lack of pictures! None on their site and I can't find my camera.

Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry


12 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1 cup water
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 tablespoon cornstartch
2 tablespoons cooking oil (I used Canola)
10 green onions, bias-sliced into 1-inch pieces
1 cup thinly sliced fresh mushrooms
12 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped, or 2 tablespoons bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts
hot cooked white rice (optional)


1. Cut chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Place chicken in a resealable plastic bag set in a shallow dish. For marinade, stir together water, soy sauce, and vinegar. Pour over chicken; seal bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Drain chicken, reserving the marinade. Stir cornstarch into reserved marinade; set aside.

2. Pour oil into a wok or large skillet. (If necessary, add more oil during cooking.) Heat over medium-high heat. Add green onion, mushrooms, and garlic to wok; cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes or until tender. Remove vegetables from wok.

3. Add chicken to wok; cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until no longer pink. Push chicken from center of wok. Stir marinade mixture; add to center of wok. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return cooked vegetables to wok. Add water chestnuts. Cook and stir about 1 minute more or until heated through. Serve with rice. Makes 4 servings.

Garlic Chicken Stir-Fry with Cashews: Prepare as above, except stir 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper into marinade. Stir in 1 cup cashews with water chestnuts.

Nutrition Facts per 1 cup: 511 cal., 25 g total fat (5 g sat. fat), 49 mg chol., 495 mg sodium, 44 g carbo., 3 g fiber, 30 g pro.Daily Values: 10% vit. A, 18% vit. C, 9% calcium, 25% ironExchanges: 2 1/2 Starch, 3 Very Lean Meat, 1/2 Vegetable, 4 Fat

Family History of Meat Loaf

With all of the time I have been spending in my kitchen lately, it is slowly transitioning into the central common room of our house as opposed to the living room. Though Don doesn't have the energy to put on an apron and play iron chef during these first few weeks of the move, his curiosity about what new thing we are going to try tonight and the wafting aromas and spices that drift throughout the house have him sniffing around. Last night as he wandered into the kitchen and eyed the ground beef, onion, egg and spice mixture in the bowl on the chopping board, he raised an eyebrow and asked what it was. "I'm making Mini Meat Loaves from Cooking Light," I said without looking up. His silence and blank expression confirmed that he was not impressed. However, I had already anticipated this reaction.

It is no secret that Don is no fan of Meat Loaf. In fact he rather despises it. However, this Cooking Light recipe was unique enough to still have me curious to try it and since Don is not doing the grocery shopping, or the meal planning, or the cooking right now, I decided to screw him and make what I wanted to make! Despite his lack of enthusiasm about the meal and his doubt in its potential, he still hung out with me in the kitchen and kept me company while I cooked, and he even peeled a few potatoes and did a few dishes. We had a glass of wine, talked about our day, critiqued some of the recent recipes we had tried, and I learned all about Don's entire family history when it comes to meat loaf.

When his mom was pregnant with him, she got sick off of meatloaf. Strike number one. Don hated meatloaf growing up because meatloaf in his family consisted solely of ground beef, egg, oatmeal and ketchup. Strike number two. The worst part of meatloaf was the ketchup which was why he was not excited to see the ketchup-dijon glaze on top of the mini loaves I was preparing. Strike number three. However, he did concede that it was possible somewhere out there to make a meatloaf he might actually enjoy because one person in his life had succeeded in doing this before - his previous girlfriend Anne - an impressive feet. He did not know what she put in it, but you can bet it was more than ground beef, egg, oatmeal, and ketchup.

Despite all of the meat loaf baggage Don has been carrying around, apparently since he was in the womb, after just one bite he conceded that the recipe did not suck. He ate his whole helping and said that, though it was not as good as Anne's, he would still be happy to take the leftovers in his lunch the next day. I consider that a success.

I rather liked the mini meat loaves myself. I prefer them much more than the kind you make in a bread pan because each individual loaf has a nice crispy outer edge. It is not one of my all time favorite recipes but for how simple and quick it was to make, I would consider it a great way to use up some ground beef. Be sure to use a good quality dijon mustard like grey poupon because that seems to make or break the recipe. Also, I think that the fresh ground breadcrumbs I used as opposed to the store bought container went a long way for keeping the meat nice and moist in the center. This recipe made quite a mess out of my baking sheet so if you make this you might want to consider laying down a piece of foil first.

It's amazing how the process of cooking a meal can bring people together and bring out new stories. My family never made meat loaf growing up (that I can remember) so this is a new adventure to me. The only time I can remember ever having meat loaf was when Emily made Alton Brown's version of meat loaf for us back at the Lakeside Apartments. And I thought that was quite tasty. But this has me curious. Anyone else have any great family stories to share about their experiences with meatloaf? Lena, does this recipe count as kid friendly?

Mini Meat Loaves


1/2 cup ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 pound ground sirloin
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine ketchup and mustard, stirring well with a whisk. Reserve 2 1/2 tablespoons ketchup mixture. Combine remaining ketchup mixture, beef, and next 6 ingredients (beef through egg) in a large bowl, stirring to combine.

Divide beef mixture into 4 equal portions. Shape each portion into a 4 x 2 1/2-inch loaf; place loaves on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray.

Spread about 2 teaspoons reserved ketchup mixture evenly over each loaf. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until done.


4 servings (serving size: 1 loaf)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 255(28% from fat); FAT 7.9g (sat 2.8g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 27.4g; CHOLESTEROL 120mg; CALCIUM 31mg; SODIUM 944mg; FIBER 0.9g; IRON 2.7mg; CARBOHYDRATE 15.7g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2003

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Happy Comfort Food - Curry Squash Soup...the TJ way!

Here's the recipe for my curry squash soup. I have to say I've been making it so long, I just eyeball amounts, so I'm guessing when I write down the amount of squash and whatnot. Thankfully, its really hard to mess up. When in doubt, just make sure you have twice as much squash as apples, and enough broth or water to cover everything while it cooks and you should be fine.

This is the way I make this soup using Trader Joe's Red Curry Sauce. It completely doable using curry paste, just more involved, and I can't remember all the correct amounts right now, so for safety's safe (that's saftey of your tongue) use the sauce. If you're still feeling ambitious, I seem to remember cooking the onions with garlic, ginger, and curry paste, and then adding coconut milk when I added to broth to the soup......good luck. :)

Katy's Curry Squash Soup - the TJ way

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cups butternut squash, chopped (TJ has bags pre-chopped in the produce section...two should do it)
2 cups apple, chopped (Any apple but red delicious or granny smith)
2 cups potato, chopped
4 cups broth or water (I like a half and half mixture myself)
1/2 bottle of TJ's (Trader Joes) Red Curry Sauce
salt and pepper

In a 5 quart pot, saute onions over oil. When onions start to get translucent and soft, add the curry sauce. Cook for 1-2 minutes, so the sauce gets hot and releases its oils. Add squash, apples, enough broth to cover everything, and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer until squash and apples are soft. Blend or mash this together into a creamy consistency. (If you don't have an emulsion blender, blend soup in portions in your countertop blender) Add potatoes. Cover and simmer until potatoes are soft. Serve hot with bread.

fabulous fast lunch

Jeremy and I just came back from Las Vegas, and there was nothing in our fridge except a few veggies and whatnot from my trip to the farmer's market the week before. So here it is Monday afternoon, and Jer and I want lunch, and I can barely think I'm so hungry and what's in the fridge....hmmm, I see leeks, broccoli, some cheese, pears, eggs and lettuce. Sure I could make a salad, but its cold, and I'm cold and I don't want to eat anything cold....besides, did you see salad dressing in that list? I sure didn't and today was not the day for nudity, even in a salad. (did I mention it was cold?)

In comes the internet to the rescue! I searched leek recipes and found a leek and asparagus frittata. I didn't have asparagus, but I had broccoli....woohoo! Delicious, filling, easy, and HOT! Can't wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. Oh, btw, its great with salad and a piece of bread, even if the salad is naked. ;)

Leek And Broccoli Frittata (or baked omelet, if you prefer)

1 leek, washed and coarsely chopped
1 head of broccoli
1/4 cup of feta (add more if you really like it, this is the amount for a subtle flavor)
1 1/2 T fresh or frozen dill
5 eggs, beaten
2T water
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat some olive oil in an oven safe pan. Throw the leeks in and saute them until they are soft (about 5 minutes I think). Add the water and broccoli and saute until the water has cooked off. The leeks will be really soft and the broccoli will be bright green and still crunchy. Add your dill, feta, salt and pepper to taste. Pour in your beaten egg mixture, on top of the veggies, and stir it up a bit. Then put it in the oven and bake until the eggs firm up, about 20 minutes. To serve it, you could serve straight from the pan, or put it on a platter and slice wedges out of it. It shouldn't stick to the pan much at all. Serve hot or room temp.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Dinner for My Man

Don has been working really long hours the past week with the big move for his work. We are talking 14 to 15 hour days. It has made my evening meal preparation even that much more important. Not only do I want to create a tasteful enjoyable meal to share when he gets home and is finally ready to relax, but those super long days can be hard on a person's body and I want to be sure he is getting some good balanced nutrition to sustain him during this busy time. Though he doesn't have the time or energy to help in the kitchen this week, I know he is grateful for the hearty meals he gets to come home to. I'm telling you, cooking is good for a marriage. Good food and a shared meal are never under appreciated and the benefits go a long way. Don and I even ate dinner together at the table tonight with no television or distractions. And I'm glad we did because he pretty much went to bed straight after that before 8:00 p.m. I don't blame him since he has to leave the house before 5 a.m. all this week. At least I know he went to bed well fed.

Don and I both gave tonight's dinner rave reviews: Chicken Puttanesca with Angel Hair Pasta from Cooking Light and Bluegrass Salad from Southern Living. The main dish was a nice variation using chicken instead of ground beef or sausage with pasta and the kalamata olives, capers, and chili flakes pair well to bring out the full flavor of the sauce. In fact, the chopped fresh basil at the end really was not needed. The sauce is bold enough and stands well on its own. Next time I make this I will save some money and leave out the basil garnish. The Salad also was amazing. Bosc pears are my new secret obsession. I can't get over how good they taste this time of year. I substituded broccoli floretts for Asparagus since they are more in season. The recipe is enough to feed a crowd so consider pairing down the ingredients for a regular family meal. However, this would be great to take to a barbecue or potluck for a nice fresh side. Just bring the vinaigrette in a recycled glass jar and toss just before serving.

Chicken Puttanesca with Angel Hair Pasta

We add olives, capers, crushed red pepper, and fresh basil to bottled pasta sauce for a quick variation on the traditional version.


8 ounces uncooked angel hair pasta
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast cut in 1 inch pieces
2 teaspoons olive oil
teaspoon salt
cups tomato-basil pasta sauce (such as Muir Glen Organic)
cup pitted and coarsely chopped kalamata olives
tablespoon capers
teaspoon crushed red pepper
cup (1 ounce) preshredded Parmesan cheese
Chopped fresh basil or basil sprigs (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain and keep warm.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces. Add chicken to pan; sprinkle evenly with salt. Cook chicken 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in pasta sauce, olives, capers, and pepper; bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes or until chicken is done, stirring frequently. Arrange 1 cup pasta on each of 4 plates; top with 1 1/2 cups chicken mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese. Garnish with chopped basil or basil sprigs, if desired.


4 servings

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 530(21% from fat); FAT 12.4g (sat 2.8g,mono 6.6g,poly 2g); PROTEIN 51.8g; CHOLESTEROL 104mg; CALCIUM 165mg; SODIUM 971mg; FIBER 2.1g; IRON 4.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 55g

Karen Levin , Cooking Light, AUGUST 2007

Bluegrass Salad


1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
3/4 cup walnuts
2 heads romaine lettuce, torn
2 pears, chopped
1 cup asparagus tips*
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries


Whisk together first 4 ingredients. Chill at least 1 hour.

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; add walnuts, and sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove walnuts with a slotted spoon.

Toss together lettuce, pears, asparagus, and toasted walnuts. Sprinkle with cheese and cranberries; drizzle with dressing.

*1 cup broccoli florets or 1 cup snow peas may be substituted.


Makes 6 to 8 servings

Southern Living, NOVEMBER 2002