Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Amazing Easy Turkey Breast (for any time of year)

At Christmas Eve dinner, while discussing the next day and meal plans, we all realize that we are serving ham, and several of our guest are Jewish and possibly Kosher as well. !!! So I volunteered to make a couple of turkey breasts (not a full turkey as it would take too long to cook.) I bought the breast that night, and in the morning found this recipe and whipped it up. All I can say is AMAZING!

This turkey was so good and easy. I left it to marinate on the kitchen counter for an hour and that was enough to get all the flavors into the middle of the turkey breast. (For those who like to marinate in the fridge, I'd say let it marinate longer, and definitely let your breast come to room temp before cooking. This should be law with all roasting, but especially one wants a dry bird.)

Also, I made the sauce, but found the bird so flavorful that it didn't really need it. Maybe a touch on the side, but if you slather in sauce, you lose all the wonderful turkey flavor. :) Enjoy!

Vera's Roast Turkey Breast With Garlic and Thyme

Recipe #258098 (from
I received this recipe from my co-worker and we really enjoyed it this Thanksgiving. Her copy looks like it may have come from Quick Cuisine - Winter 2001.
servings click to change U.S./Metric measurement system or number of servings
time to make 1¼ hours 15 min prep

2 lbs boneless turkey breast
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon butter
  1. Trim turkey breast of any fat.
  2. In a small bowl combine olive oil with garlic, thyme, mustard, lemon peel, salt and pepper. Rub into turkey breast.
  3. Marinate in the refrigerator from 1 hour to 12 hours.
  4. Arrange turkey breast, skin side up, on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or tinfoil.
  5. Roast at 350F for 50 to 60 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the breast reaches 165F and the juices run clear.
  6. Remove turkey from oven to a carving board and tent with tinfoil. Place juices in a medium skillet (could drain off some of the fat) add lemon juice (perhaps use less if some of the fat drained off) and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter.
  7. Carve turkey into thin slices across the breast. Drizzle with sauce and garnish with fresh thyme.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Overdue Recipes 2

Camille asked that I post the bread pudding recipe that I made before. I made it with a mix of stale french bread and stale sourdough bread that I had (I love a bit of sourdough in bread sets off the sweetness really nicely). What a perfect way to use stale bread!

If you are using stale bread rather than fresh bread (which is the point of this pudding), make sure to have extra milk around, and let the bread sit long enough in the milk to get really moist and at least a few of the bread pieces should be a little soggy. The stale bread is going to soak up more liquid than fresh bread, and it needs more liquid and more time to do it in. I started with the recipe, but when the bread had soaked up everything and still wasn't very soft, I added more milk. (If the bread doesn't get soft and a little soggy, then the cubes will stay cubes throughout baking, and I like a pudding that's pudding-y, not cubed)

Also, I added a lot more cinnamon than the recipe called for. It might be that my cinnamon is dead and I need to get some fresh stuff, but I just go by taste anyway, rather than recipe, so, eh.
Oh, and I didn't make the sauce, cause I was out of Bourbon, but it really does make this pudding.

Bread Pudding With Bourbon Sauce

From Diana Rattray,
Your Guide to Southern Food.
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Recipe Feedback:
Bread pudding with bourbon sauce and raisins. Add cinnamon to this bread pudding recipe if you want, and serve with tasty bourbon sauce.


  • 12 ounces French bread, cut in 1/2-inch chunks, about 6 cups
  • 3 cups milk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cups raisins
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • .
  • Sauce
  • 1/2 cup butter (4 ounces)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup bourbon


Place bread chunks in a large bowl; pour milk over. Stir a little to break the pieces up a little; let stand until all milk is absorbed. In another bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together.

Stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the raisins into the mixture. Pour into a buttered baking pan or casserole. Drizzle with the melted butter.

Bake at 350° for about 60 minutes, or until set. Cool and cut into squares.

To make sauce: In a saucepan, melt butter; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. Whisk in bourbon. Remove from heat and chill thoroughly. Whisk before serving.
Makes 1 cup.

Overdue Recipes

I know I haven't posted in a while. In fact, I keep collecting recipes that I say I'm going to post and the list gets longer and longer....and now I can't even remember a bunch of the ones I was going to post. So here's two of them, and if there are any more recipes you want posted, let me know, and I'll get them up.

This first recipe is from Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello. I tried it with Chicken instead of fish, and though it was good, I would recommend either marinating the chicken before hand in the sauce, or, at the very least, make sure its well seasoned before assembling the bags. Honestly, I think this goes best with fish, maybe scallops would be good. :) Also, very quick recipe. The longest prep time you'll have is making the sauce.

"Lunchbag" Swordfish with Mediterranean Tomato Sauce and Linguini
Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello
See this recipe on air Tuesday Dec. 18 at 11:30 AM ET/PT.
Show: Easy Entertaining with Michael Chiarello
Episode: My First Dinner Party

The recipe makes more tomato sauce than you will need for the fish. It is delicious as a pasta sauce, a topping for bruschetta, or a sauce or side dish for grilled poultry or meat. For the best flavor, use garden fresh tomatoes.
3 cups vine-ripened plum (Roma) tomatoes, cored and cut into thin wedges
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup (1 small) minced red onion
2 tablespoons rinsed, drained, and roughly chopped capers
1/2 cup roasted red or yellow bell peppers, coarsely chopped
12 pitted and sliced Greek olives (such as kalamata or Gaeta olives)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons pepper olive oil or 1/2 teaspoon dried chili flakes
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound dried linguini
4 brown paper lunch bags or 4 large sheets parchment paper or waxed paper (see note)
4 (6-ounce) swordfish steaks
Put tomatoes in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Add oregano, parsley, garlic, onion, capers, peppers, olives, lemon juice, pepper oil, and 4 tablespoons of the extra-virgin olive oil. Stir gently just to mix and set aside at least 1 hour. Adjust seasonings, if desired. Mixture will become more liquid and sauce-like over time.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook linguini until al dente. Drain and toss with remaining 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil. Reserve.

To cook the fish: (See Chef's Note below if using waxed paper.) Place a small square of parchment or waxed paper at the bottom of each paper bag. Place small pile of linguini in each of the bags. Top with a spoonful of tomato sauce, making sure to moisten the linguini with the juices. Lay a piece of fish on top and arrange with another spoonful of sauce. Moisten again with juices from the sauce and season with salt and pepper.

Fold over the tops of the bags, place them on a baking sheet, and bake for 15 minutes.

To serve, transfer the bags to 4 dinner plates and let each diner cut open the package to enjoy the aromas.

*Chef's Note: To make waxed or parchment paper "bags": Fold 4 large sheets of paper in half. With the fold as the spine, cut a large semicircle (about an 8-inch radius) with one end more pointed than the other (opened out, the shape resembles a heart). Open the circles. Layers the ingredients in the center of the paper as instructed above. Leave a 1-inch border of paper clear.

Close the parchment over the fish. Starting at the flatter end of the semicircle, firmly fold the edge inwards. Fold entire edge into a series of tight, flat, overlapping pleats to enclose the fish. Fold the last pleat several times and tuck it under the bag. Put the bags on a baking sheet and bake in the oven 12 to 15 minutes. The bags will puff up and brown. Waxed paper is a nice touch to make the cooking bags because you can see the colors of the sauce through it.


So I was reading this WSJ article about the fifth taste "Umami" Its described as savory, so now we have sweet, salty, sour, bitter, and savory, which makes much more sense to me. Anyway, I had to put these recipes on here, cause they sound SO good. I'm going to try the olive roasted chicken as soon as I can, cause I love chicken and olives anyway. Maybe for a game night?

Gary Danko's Tomato Soup

Roasting tomatoes increases their umami taste. In this recipe from Gary Danko, chef at San Francisco's Restaurant Gary Danko, the addition of tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce (based partially on umami-rich anchovies), soy sauce and grated Parmesan pumps up the rich, savory taste. When using canned tomatoes, Mr. Danko prefers to use whole tomatoes in purée, imported from Italy. However, canned whole tomatoes in juice will work as well.

[Tomato soup photo]

Yield: Serves 6 (about 8 cups)
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 55 minutes total

2 pounds plum Roma tomatoes or 3 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes
6 garlic cloves smashed and peeled
3 small yellow onions (about 1 pound), peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery or ½ fennel bulb (about 4 ounces), cut into ¼-inch dice
¼ cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons tomato ketchup
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
¼ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
2-3 cups chicken broth, vegetable stock or water
4-6 large fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 fresh mint leaves, chopped
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

[john and dottie]
Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher suggest wine pairings for this meal.
With the tomato soup, Chef Danko suggests dry rosé Champagne and we're so pleased to hear someone recommending bubbly with meals. Too often, people think of sparkling wine simply as a celebratory beverage to drink on its own, but bubblies are often great with food. Chef Danko particularly likes Dom Ruinart rosé Champagne (about $68). We'd also suggest rosé Champagne from Louis Roederer, Moët & Chandon, Camille Savès, Gosset, Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot and Henriot. Those will all cost around $40 to $70. Fortunately, the world is awash in good rosé sparklers at thriftier prices. Cristalino, which is a Cava from Spain, makes a delightful rosé sparkler for around $8 and, in Alsace, Lucien Albrecht makes a rosé bubbly for about $19 that's the best non-Champagne pink sparkler we've had in some time. You can contact us at
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

If using fresh tomatoes, wash, dry and core them. If using canned tomatoes, drain tomatoes, reserving the purée or juice. Halve the tomatoes lengthwise.

Divide tomatoes between 2 shallow baking pans, arranging them cut-side down in a single layer without crowding. Sprinkle the garlic, onions, salt and thyme over the tomatoes and drizzle with oil.

Roast until tomatoes are slightly browned and tender, about 45 minutes. Let cool slightly.

Put the celery or fennel, tomato paste, ketchup, Worcestershire, Tabasco and soy sauce in a blender. Add some of the roasted tomato mixture and stock and blend until smooth. Strain through a medium strainer into a pot, pressing the solids with the bottom of a ladle or a rubber spatula to remove the seeds and small skin particles. Working in small batches, continue to purée and strain the remaining tomato mixture, the reserved purée or juices from the can and the remaining stock into the pot, using 2 cups of liquid total.

Bring soup to a slow simmer over medium-high heat, stirring to combine, about 10 minutes. Thin with additional stock if necessary. Correct salt as needed.

Serve in bowls with a sprinkle of basil, mint and cheese.

Jody Adams's Balsamic-Marinated Chicken Stuffed With Green Olives (a.k.a. Roxanne's Roast Chicken)

Chef Jody Adams has served a duck dish using the same marinade and technique at Rialto in Boston for about 20 years, she says. Five years ago, while attending a culinary lecture about umami, she realized why this dish is a customer favorite: The soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, olives and poultry are all rich in umami compounds. A long marinade and slow roasting magnifies those flavors.

[roast chicken]

Yield: Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes (plus the time to bring chicken to room temp.)
Cooking time: about 1 ½ hours (mostly inactive aside from turning the chicken)
Resting time: 10 minutes

½ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
¼ cup Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoons mustard seeds
1 ½ teaspoons dried rosemary
1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ small white onion, chopped into ¼ inch dice
1 (4-pound) roasting chicken
12 large pitted Sicilian green olives

Mix the vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, mustard seeds, rosemary, pepper and onion together in a bowl large enough to hold the chicken, and set aside.

Remove the package from the cavity of the chicken; reserve for another use or discard it. Taking care to work directly over a sink, and not spray chicken juices around the kitchen, rinse the chicken inside and out and then dry thoroughly with paper towels. Roll the chicken all around in the marinade, making sure plenty of marinade flows inside the cavity. Cover and marinate 8 hours to overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, put the chicken into a large resealable plastic bag, pour the marinade over the chicken and into the cavity, seal, and refrigerate.

Prior to cooking, bring the chicken to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the chicken from the marinade, allowing any that clings to the chicken to remain. Save the marinade in the bowl. Put the olives in the cavity of the chicken. Set the chicken, breast side down, on a non-stick rack, or a rack sprayed with cooking oil, in a roasting pan. Add ½ inch water to the roasting pan to prevent the juices from burning. Roast for 50 minutes. Flip the bird, taking care not to lose the olives; pour the reserved marinade over the bird; tuck the wingtips underneath and continue roasting for 40 minutes or until the chicken is done. If the skin begins to get too brown, tent the breast with a piece of foil and continue roasting until the bird is done. The chicken is done when the leg bones have a little play in the socket when you try to wiggle them. A thermometer inserted into the thicket part of the thigh should read 170 degrees.

Transfer the chicken to a cutting board or serving platter and let the chicken rest 10 minutes before carving.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Easy (and amazing, so says Matt) Enchiladas

I have been missing my mom's enchiladas but unfortunately do not have her recipe and the one on the back of the can just doesn't look...good. So in going through my family cookbook, I found one that Aunt Sharon had given me earlier in the year. The only thing I never like about enchiladas was that they always seemed too spicey, and thus I was not a fan of green chiles. Mom would make separate ones for me that didn't have green chilies so that I would still eat my dinner. They were soooooooooo good.

Aunt Sharon's recipe is pretty different but still quite tasty. I am tempted to make my own enchilada sauce next time though, because the red stuff in a can didn't taste quite right. Serve with melon on the side.1

Layered Chicken Enchiladas
from Aunt Sharon

1/2 cup sunflower or canola oil
8 corn tortillas
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese
1 cup shredded or cubed cooked chicken
1 can - 4.5 ounces - chopped green chilies
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 can - 10 ounces - grreen chili enchilada sauce

Preheat oven to 350. In small skillet heat oil to 350. Dip each tortilla in hot oil for 2-3 seconds to soften; drain on paper towels.

Place tortilla on lightly greased baking sheet. Top with 1/4 cup cheese, 1/4 cup chicken, 1 1/2 green chilies, and 1 T onion. Top with second tortilla; pour 1/3 cup enchilada sauce over top. Sprinkle with 1/4 c. cheese.

Repeat with remaining tortillas to make 4 stacks. Bake 15 minutes.

Serves 4.

Saturday, December 8, 2007


Our social network is expanding. We have another friend from the Seattle area who moved to town a couple of weeks ago and is living in Glendale now - Don's friend Dom - yes, with an "m". We wanted to invite him over but tonight is Don's company Christmas party so instead of dinner, we decided to invite him over for brunch.

This morning, I tried my first time at making a Strata. Now, for those of you that don't know the difference between a strata and a frittata, here is your basic run down on egg dishes:

1. An omlette is an egg dish made with with meat, veggies, and/or cheese on your stove top. Toppings are folded into the outer egg lining sort of like a burrito or a calzone.
2. A frittata is much like an omlette but the egg and other ingredients are all mixed together and then baked in the oven to set.
3. A Quiche is basically a frittata but is baked in a pie crust.
4. A Strata is an Italian breakfast casserole that takes chunks of cubed French or Italian bread, mixes the ingredients together in a casserole dish and then you pour the egg mixture over the whole thing so that the bread soaks it up and binds all of it together.

Now, I will admit that the Strata making process is a little labor intensive, but oh man was it worth it and fun to prepare. Unfortunately, I loaned my camera to a friend or I would have taken a picture of the gorgeous finished product. As the strata bakes it rises up into this beautiful golden display - lightly crisp and chewy on the outside, moist and delicious on the inside. And it smells incredible while it is baking. Did I mention it was beautiful and delicious?

This particular strata recipe calls for a mixture of spinach, onions, gruyere and Parmigiano-reggiano cheeses. For the meat I used chicken breakfast sausage from Trader Joes which was perfect. Additionally, the recipe includes instructions for preparing this recipe such that it reserves a portion for meat eaters and vegetarians alike - thus earning it's title: Double-Sided Strata.

This is one that you can't quite whip together in a hurry. Prepping all of the ingredients only takes about 15-20 minutes, but then you have to let it rest for 30 while the bread soaks up the egg mixture, then bake it for another 45 to 50 minutes, and don't forget to let it rest another 5 minutes at least after you take it out of the oven. But it was all so worth it for the cheesy gooey goodness it produced. I now have an open standing offer for anyone else that wants to move to California, I will be happy to make this awesome strata for you as well. Now isn't that an offer that's hard to turn down? Any takers?

Double-Sided Strata

1 (10-ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed
1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion (1 large)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
8 cups cubed (1 inch) French or Italian bread (1/2 pound)
2 cups coarsely grated Gruyere (about 6 ounces)
1 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 2 ounces)
1 cup cooked breakfast sausage, ham, or shredded meat (optional)
2 3/4 cups milk
9 large eggs
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Squeeze handfuls of spinach to remove as much liquid as possible, then finely chop.
Cook onion in butter in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until soft, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and nutmeg and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in spinach, then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, toss together the bread cubes, spinach mixture, 1 3/4 cups of the Gruyere, and 3/4 cup of the Parmigiano. Transfer 1/2 of the bread mixture to another bowl and toss with sausage.

Line a 9 by 13-inch baking dish with several pieces of foil, to form 2 enclosed sides, building a "dam" of foil down the center crosswise. Butter the foil. Put the "vegetarian" mixture in 1 side, and the "meat-eaters" mixture in the other.

Whisk together milk, eggs, mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl and pour evenly over each side. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup Gruyere, and 1/4 cup Parmigiano. Let the strata sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Bake strata, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed, golden brown, and cooked through, 45 to 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Oh My Omaha

Some people like to give out baked treats around the holidays. Don's grandparents give out steaks. Now that's what I'm talking about! So last week we received a shipment from Omaha Steak company labeled "Extremely Perishable Goods." Inside was an assortment of neatly packaged various frozen meats and goods including steaks, chicken, pork chops, stuffed potatoes and even some dog treats all being cooled by a block of dry ice (which I didn't realize was dry ice until I tried to pick it up and burnt my fingers.)

So now I have an exciting freezer full of treats and a new source of inspiration to come up with exciting recipes on how to prepare them. Yesterday I set the sirloin steaks in the fridge to thaw and decided this time that I would search the Food Network Website for ideas. It was getting late in the afternoon and I was feeling a bit lazy so I didn't want anything too involved or that was going to take too long to prepare. Enter Rachael Ray to the rescue! I printed out the following recipe for Pepper Crusted Tenderloin with Mushroom Cream and Roast Asparagus and was off to the grocery store. This is another recipe where all of the ingredients can be purchased at your local Trader Joes - unless you are not from California, then you may have to go to the liquor store to pick up your cognac or Brandy.

Even though we just used sirloin steaks instead of tenderloin the recipe was still fabulous. The mushrooms soaked the concentrated flavor of the brandy and the subtle cream sauce was not so overpowering that it didn't allow you to still taste the great natural flavors of the meat. And considering that this meal took only 15 minutes to prepare start to finish, this one is definitely a keeper! I can't wait to try this again with some filet mignon.

Pepper Crusted Tenderloin with Mushroom Cream and Roast Asparagus

3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed at stem (fat stems should be peeled down a bit as well)
Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling plus 2 tablespoons
4 (1-inch thick, 3 to 4-inch round) beef tenderloin steaks, about 1 pound total
4 teaspoons coarse black pepper, a rounded palm full
2 tablespoons butter
6 white mushroom caps, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup cognac or brandy, eyeball it
3/4 cup cream, eyeball it
Chopped parsley leaves or chives, for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Spread asparagus on small baking sheet and dress with a liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt. Roast the spears in a hot oven until tender and ends are crisp and slightly brown at edges, about 10 to 12 minutes. Asparagus should remain bright green.

Take the chill off the meat then pour the black pepper onto a small plate. Heat the extra-virgin olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high to high heat. When oil smokes, press each steak into pepper to coat then place peppered side down in the skillet. Sear and caramelize the meat 3 to 4 minutes, turn and cook 2 minutes more for rare, 3 minutes for pink.

While the meat cooks, heat a small skillet over medium flame and melt then butter. Add mushrooms and lightly saute them for 4 to 5 minutes. Season the mushrooms with salt and pepper and add cognac or brandy to the pan. Be careful of flare ups. You may want to add the liquor off the stove top then return the skillet to the heat. Reduce the liquid by half, cooking off the alcohol and concentrating the flavor, then stir in the cream and warm it through. Reduce heat a bit and let sauce thicken 2 to 3 minutes.

Spoon sauce over meat and serve with asparagus alongside.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Merry Crockpot

Santa came Early this year and apparently is using UPS now as my beautiful shiny new six quart crockpot arrived last week. (Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Bunch.) After doing a quick search on the internet I found this interesting recipe that I thought would be fun to try - Curried Zucchini and Apple Crock Pot Soup. I chopped everything up and set it to work this morning at 8:30 a.m. and by early afternoon my house was filled with wonderful aromas. The dogs were sniffing around the kitchen all day and putting on their best "I'm dying of starvation" acts. Luckily, Santa also sent us a package from the Omaha Steak Company which included a box of Canine Cookies. (Thanks again Grandma and Grandpa.)

I think this soup could really be hit or miss depending on your taste buds. It can make a great vegetarian meal if that is your persuasion but for me it worked better as a side dish served along side some turkey ham steaks and corn bread muffins (contributed by Katy). The curry flavor was good but but a little underwhelming. I think a dash or two of some fresh grated nutmeg would have done a lot to liven up the soup and bring it to the next level. I enjoyed this recipe and will be happy to eat the leftovers but not sure that I will make it again. It does make for a nice winter warm up though. Unfortunately, it happened to be in the 70s here today.

Regardless, I love my new crockpot and you can expect to see more of these slow cooker recipes popping up on this blog in the near future. Ho ho ho. Merry Crockpot Christmas.

I give this recipe an overall grade of a C+.

Zucchini Soup Recipe

This delicious Zucchini Soup Recipe (or Courgette Soup recipe) combines zucchinis (courgettes), apples and curry - to produce a fantastic meal on a cold winters day.

And it is so simple to create in your crock pot.

Yes, we still have heaps of zucchinis. So Neil and I searched around for a delicious soup. We found a recipe cooked at "The Darby Field Inn and Restaurant" and after a few modifications we settled on this recipe and now have heaps in the freezer, ready for winter :-)

This recipe makes about 8 to 10 servings.

Add the milk just prior to serving. Don't add milk if freezing - add it once thawed and ready to serve.

Curried Zucchini and Apple Crock Pot Soup

1½lb (700g) Zucchini – sliced
2 large apples - peeled, cored, chopped
2 large onions - diced
½ cup rice (we used white, but any should work)
4 cups Chicken Stock OR Vegetable Stock for a Vegetarian alternative
2 tspn Curry Powder
3 tbls per serve milk
1. Mix curry powder and stock together.
2. Place all of the other ingredients into the crock pot.
3. Pour the stock over top.
4. Cover and cook for 8-10 hours on Low.
5. When ready to serve, puree soup in a blender or use a hand held device in the crock pot (saves washing another item).
6. Add 60ml (3 tbls) milk per serve and enjoy.
Serves 8-10
Freeze the excess, for an extra quick meal later.
Add the milk just as serving. Don't add milk if freezing.

Christmas cookies

My daughter who is currently interested in all things pink and princesses wanted to borrow a 'pink Christmas book' last time we went to the library. Lucky for me, a librarian overheard the request and handed my daughter the following book: "Christmas Fairy Cooking by Leonie Pratt and Catherine Atkinson."

So far, I've only managed to indulge my daughter with one of the recipes, with some motherly adjustment ... I bought a box of organic sugarcookie mix, followed the recipe on the box so my cookies have eggs in them and just added the red food coloring (but still quite tasty, and oh so girly, my daughter loves her pink cookies).

But the recipe that follows looks a lot like another one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes so I will give it a spin as soon things slow down around here ...

Anyhow, the Tiny Christmas Cookies recipe

4 tbs butter, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
8 drops of red food coloring
1 1/2 tsp milk
1/4 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1, Put the butter into a bowl and stir it until it is creamy. Then sift in the powdered sugar and stir everything well.

2, Add the food coloring to the mixture and stir it in well, until the mixture is pink. Add milk and vanilla.

3, Sift the flour into the flour, stir together and use hands to make into dough.

4, Dust rolling pin and clean work surface with flour, roll out the dough until it's about 1/4 inch thick.

5, Use assorted cutters to cut out lots of shapes (we used crowns, princesses, stars etc.) and place on a greased cookie sheet (or a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper). Use the leftover dough to make another ball of dough and repeat step 4 and 5 until all dough is gone.

6, Make patterns on some of the cookies with a toothpick, sprinkle some decorative white sugar on others, leave some plain.

7, Bake for 6-8 minutes in a preheated 350 degree oven. Let cookies cool either on cookie sheet or on a cooling rack.

8, Dust some of the cookies with powdered sugar, because it looks great.

Have a great time baking my fellow princesses!

New Twist on Chicken and Rice

Like Camille's Frittata Recipe posted recently, this is another great clean out your fridge recipe to have on hand. A new twist on your ordinary chicken and rice, this recipe adds chicken stock, fresh squeezed lemon juice and canned artichokes as the key flavor ingredients. It also calls for onions, red bell pepper, and graded Romano Cheese, but I like to dump in whatever veggies I have in the fridge at the time. All varieties of peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, yellow summer squash and celery work particularly well in this recipe.

I have also enjoyed experimenting with different sharp cheeses in place of the Romano. Last night I used up the rest of the Gruyere I had leftover from the Swiss Baked Potatoes I made a few weeks ago. Irish Dubliner Cheese is also one of my favorites in this recipe. Parmesan and Parmigiano-Reggiano obviously are good candidates as well. I would even be willing to try this with a sharp cheddar if it was all I had on hand but it wouldn't be my first choice. Additionally, I usually add way more cheese than the recipe actually calls for (about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup depending on the cheese) making this a not-so-light Cooking Light Recipe. Rather than sprinkling the cheese on top as suggested, I like to add it to the pot at the end of the cooking while it is still warm and stir it all together so that the flavor mixes and melts throughout the entire dish and binds everything together. Of course, you could always do this and still add extra sprinkles on top as you can never have too much cheese!

This meal preps in about five minutes, cooks in fifteen and only dirties one pot. It's not going to win any awards based on visual appearance so I maybe wouldn't serve it for guests, but it's a great weeknight go to and keeps well as easy lunch-time leftovers. I give it a total of four out of five stars (or four out of five wooden spoons if you are going by Camille's rating system.)

Lemon Chicken and Rice with Artichokes


Cooking spray
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch strips
2 1/4 cups chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 cups instant rice
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
2 tablespoons grated Romano cheese


Heat a Dutch oven coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken, chopped onion, and red bell pepper; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in rice, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until rice is tender. Stir in artichokes, and cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese.


4 servings (serving size: 2 cups)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 324(8% from fat); FAT 2.8g (sat 1g,mono 0.7g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 35g; CHOLESTEROL 69mg; CALCIUM 120mg; SODIUM 773mg; FIBER 8.3g; IRON 3.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 40.7g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2004

Sunday, December 2, 2007


What the heck is a "stoup"? I had never heard of that term before. Apparently it's a hearty soup with lots of goodies mixed together.

I subscribe online to Everyday with Rachael Ray and the latest email intrigued me. There were lots of recipes for hearty soups and one in particular caught my eye. I couldn't wait to try it the following week.

Well yesterday Don, Cindy, Matt and I had an improptu get together at their place in Sherman Oaks. I told Cindy about this recipe and she sounded as excited about it as I was. So we headed over there and us girls immediately set off for Trader Joe's and her local veggie store while the boys stayed home and talked about who knows what. We came home and unloaded groceries, set to start cooking in a few hours as we had all been munching on Cindy's fabulous home-made cookies.

All of the sudden it was 8:45pm and we hadn't eaten dinner. Don, Cindy and Matt were busy creating epic level characters, something that I couldn't get my heart into. So I set about making this stoup and in someone else's kitchen! I give kudos to Cindy for chopping the onion and showing me her neat trick that avoids tears. :)

This stoup was the perfect ending to a great day with friends. Very hearty and filling, and the flavors mixed really well. I think next time I'll add a little more salt and pepper, but other than that I highly reccomend it for these cold evenings that come with the season.

From Everyday with Rachael Ray, February 2007

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
4 ribs celery from the heart, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 carrots, shredded (1 1/2 cups) - I chopped them instead to save time.
1 fresh bay leaf
Salt and freshly ground pepper
6 cups chicken broth - We used 4 cups which worked out fine.
1 pound ground chicken - We used ground turkey.
1 egg
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs (a couple of generous handfuls)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (a couple of generous handfuls)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
One 1-pound package gnocchi
1 cup frozen peas
Flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped (a couple of generous handfuls)
Crusty bread, for dunking


1. In a soup pot, heat the EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the celery, onions, carrots and bay leaf, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the broth, cover the pot and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, in a bowl, season the chicken with salt and pepper. Stir in the egg, bread crumbs, cheese, garlic and nutmeg. Roll the mixture into walnut-sized meatballs (you'll have about 40) and add to the stoup. Simmer for about 10 minutes while you wash up. Add the gnocchi to the stoup and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the peas and parsley and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the stoup from the heat, discard the bay leaf and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve with the bread.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Mmm, it smells like cookies

I'd figured a little visual tease was in order.

I baked gingerbread cookies (old recipe and in Swedish, so I won't even attempt to translate it) with my son today and my daughter and I have a couple of new cookie recipes to try out this week.

But until then, happy holiday baking!