Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I present: Awesome Sauce

I made this BBQ sauce the other night, and yes, it is awesome. This is my variation of a sauce recipe found on, as I can best remember it (I adjusted while cooking to get the flavor just right):

4 cups tomato sauce
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
1/4c onions (finely chopped)
1/4c + 1T soy sauce
1/4c + 1T brown sugar
1/2t mustard powder
1t cayenne
2t morrocan spice mix (Ras al Hanout listed below. You could also do 1/2t each cinnamon, corriander, cumin and black pepper and it would probably come close)
1T oregano
2 Bay leaves

Bring all to a boil and then simmer for 30 min. Done.

Ras al Hanout from Gourmet, 1998

* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 teaspoon ground ginger
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
* 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
* 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
* 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

Wisk together and keep in an airtight jar. Great for a spice rub, or for pumping any dish that requires cumin flavor.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Mediterranean Night

Don and I made a commitment this week to walk the dogs every night even if it was only for five minutes. And tonight, we did just that - walked the dogs for only five minutes. I was ready to keep going but when we rounded the block and I posed the question back or forward, Don determined that he was ready to head back since he was getting hungry. One of our neighbors was grilling steak and it smelled mighty good. Imagine Don's delight when I told him that we too were having steak for dinner. And not just steak, but steak and eggs. And not just any eggs, but poached eggs. And not just poached eggs, but Mediterranean Poached Eggs, a Cooking Light Recipe I've been wanting to try for a long time and one that is featured in the Meatless Main Dishes of my new Cooking Light cookbook that my sister got me for Christmas. I might as well have just told him that we won the lottery.

Jeremy and Katy came over to share in the meal and some much needed bonding time - been far too long since we had seen our best friends through a couple of freak weeks of opposite schedules. And this was a great meal to bring everyone back together. New fun flavors and awesomeness all around. Everyone gave it rave reviews and Katy did a really nice job for her first time ever with broiling steaks. Way to go Katy! Below is the featured recipe and a few pics of the meal.

We served with a lovely bottle of Cabernet from our favorite winery in Solvang. They actually have a White Cabernet also that is to die for.

Katy dishes up the first helping. Keep an eye out for Katy in an upcoming infomercial for a new exercise program. She recently dropped some significant poundage and does she not look fabulous?! And this Cooking Light Recipe works perfectly with her diet too.

The eggs are poached right in the tomato broth and then served over a nice slice of toasted french bread to soak up all the juices.

This is a meal that can certainly stand on it's own. But if you want to really put a smile on your husband's face, treat him to a lovely piece of sirloin steak, broiled here to perfection by the lovely Katy Spray.

Mediterranean-Style Poached Eggs

Eggs gently cook atop a savory mixture of onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, and artichoke hearts in this version of pipérade. Served over toasted bread, it makes a filling one-dish meal.

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 cup green bell pepper strips
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14-ounce) can artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
4 large eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
4 (1 1/2-ounce) slices French bread, toasted

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Add cumin and paprika; sauté 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium; stir in tomatoes, black pepper, and artichokes. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Form 4 (3-inch) indentations in vegetable mixture using the back of a spoon or bottom of a large custard cup. Break 1 egg into each indentation. Cover and cook 8 minutes or until eggs are done. Sprinkle with parsley, olives, and cheese. Serve over bread.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 bread slice, 3/4 cup vegetable mixture, and 1 egg)

CALORIES 355 (30% from fat); FAT 11.9g (sat 3.5g,mono 5.4g,poly 1.5g); IRON 3.8mg; CHOLESTEROL 217mg; CALCIUM 197mg; CARBOHYDRATE 46.2g; SODIUM 1050mg; PROTEIN 17.8g; FIBER 7.5g

Cooking Light, APRIL 2004

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Gnocchi anyone?

I have been meaning to try this recipe for awhile and the ingredients have been sitting in our fridge for almost a week. Since we are moving in 3 weeks from tomorrow, it's time to clean out the fridge and the pantry, and cook up what we've got.

Gnocchi is one of my favorite "pastas" if you will. There is something so very comforting about those little potato dumplings. Trader Joe's has an excellent pesto version, but the ones Matt picked up at the store were parmasean/potato. And they were delicious. I wasn't too sure how this recipe would turn out, especially when I realized that I forgot to reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water! But it was delicious, or so Matt said. For whatever reason I wasn't hungry last night. It was a very hearty meal and I'm sure I'll make it again soon.

CKS Note: I only used about 1/4 to 1/2 cup cheese and 1/2 onion to save calories and my sensitive stomach.

Gnocchi with Sausage and Spinach
from Real Simple

Tip: Gnocchi are small, quick-cooking dumplings, usually made from potatoes. You'll find them with the fresh or dried pasta in supermarkets, or you can substitute a short pasta, such as rigatoni, penne, or farfalle.


2 9-ounce packages refrigerated gnocchi or one 17.5-ounce package shelf-stable gnocchi
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1 clove garlic, finely chopped1
5-ounce bag baby spinach
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan, plus more for garnishing


Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the sausage and cook, crumbling it with a spoon, until browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, spinach, salt, and pepper and cook, tossing frequently, until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Add the drained gnocchi, the reserved cooking liquid, and the Parmesan and toss. Divide among individual bowls and sprinkle with additional Parmesan.

Yield: Makes 4 servings
CALORIES 815 (53% from fat); FAT 48g (sat 14g); CHOLESTEROL 96mg; CARBOHYDRATE 58g; SODIUM 1,886mg; PROTEIN 36g; FIBER 4g; SUGAR 11g
Real Simple, MARCH 2007

Monday, January 5, 2009

'Tis the season for hearty soups.

I'll be posting a few more soup recipes this month. With the cold weather, especially up in Washington, I had forgotten how warm and soothing a bowl of soup can be.

I made this dish on Christmas Day, and it was gobbled up in no time. I made it again last night and Matt was quite excited! I love the heartiness of the soup, and putting 2 cups through the blender really helps thicken it up. I would certainly reccomend using the whole kielbasa and a whole bag of spinach. It really adds to the flavor and texture of the soup. You can add extra seasoning if you like, but I love it just on its own.

CKS Note - I am not the biggest fan of beans in soup, so I just used 1 can instead of 2 - hence using the entire Kielbasa.

North Woods Bean Soup

Adding turkey kielbasa lends this soup a rich, slow-simmered flavor even though it takes less than 30 minutes to make. Puree a portion of the recipe for a velvety consistency, and stir in fresh spinach after the soup is removed from the heat so it retains its bright color.

Cooking spray
1 cup baby carrots, halved
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
7 ounces turkey kielbasa, halved lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 (6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach leaves

Heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add carrots, onion, garlic, and kielbasa; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium; cook 5 minutes. Add the broth, Italian seasoning, pepper, and beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

Place 2 cups of the soup in a food processor or blender, and process until smooth. Return the pureed mixture to pan. Simmer an additional 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat. Add the spinach, stirring until spinach wilts.

Yield: 5 servings (serving size: about 1 1/2 cups)CALORIES 227 (15% from fat); FAT 3.9g (sat 1.2g,mono 1.3g,poly 1.2g); IRON 3.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 26mg; CALCIUM 112mg; CARBOHYDRATE 30.8g; SODIUM 750mg; PROTEIN 18.1g; FIBER 6.7g

Cooking Light, JANUARY 2002

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Couscous and Glazed Chicken (Must Love Apricots)

I tried another new recipe tonight. I have never made anything with couscous before, so I was especially excited about trying this new dish. The cooking process goes pretty fast, so make sure you have the apricots chopped and the other ingredients ready to go before begining.

Overall, I give the dish 3 out of 5 stars. It wasn't my favorite, but I would eat it again. Even my dad cleaned his plate, which should warrant an extra star in and of itself (as he prefers not to stray far from the meat and potatoes americanized diet). His review: "I would eat it again, but not tomorrow."

If you love apricots, you will probably enjoy this dish. The couscous soaked up and enhanced the apricot flavors very nicely! The chicken was very tender.

The recipe is from Cooking Light's Annual Recipes 2001 or it can be found on the MyRecipes website.

Couscous and Glazed Chicken

Here's a quick main dish with a Moroccan touch. Kick this dinner off with a fresh spinach salad tossed with orange wedges.

Yield: 2 servings (serving size: 3 chicken tenders and 1 cup couscous)

1/2 pound chicken breast tenders (about 6 tenders)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon olive oil
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons apricot preserves
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/3 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1/2 cup uncooked couscous

Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken, and cook 4 minutes or until done, turning after 2 minutes. Combine preserves and vinegar in a bowl; add chicken. Keep warm. Add broth to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; add apricots. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 2 minutes. Gradually stir in couscous; top with chicken mixture. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff couscous with a fork.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 374 (8% from fat)
Fat: 3.3g (sat 0.6g,mono 1.3g,poly 0.6g)
Protein: 33.3g
Carbohydrate: 53.2g
Fiber: 3.5g
Cholesterol: 66mg
Iron: 2.7mg
Sodium: 474mg
Calcium: 27mg

Elizabeth Taliaferro, Cooking Light, APRIL 2000

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Barbecued Turkey Cutlets

It was definitely inspiring to have Cindy and Don here for Christmas, cooking delicious food and reminding me how tasty healthy meals can be with just a little planning. One night, towards the end of their visit, Cindy and I spent a few hours looking through cookbooks and bookmarking future meals. Most of the cookbooks were Cooking Light varieties, but I also recently acquired a copy of Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook from Costco which includes 1400 Best Slow Cooker Recipes. It is in this cookbook I found the recipe for barbecued turkey cutlets.

This recipe is super simple and it only takes four hours to cook on low setting (even when increasing the recipe to 1.5x the original amounts). We couldn't find cutlets, so I used tenderloins and trimmed them to smaller pieces. The turkey was well cooked, but not overcooked, and the flavor was good. Even my 3-year old niece proclaimed, "I DO like turkey!!" The flavor reminded me of something similar to an asian teriyaki blend of sorts (not like typical american "barbecue sauce"). We will definitely be making this one again!

Barbecued Turkey Cutlets
Maricarol Magil Freehold, NJ
Makes: 6-8 servings
Prep. time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
Ideal slow cooker size: 4-5 quart

6-8 (1 1/2 to 2 lbs.) turkey cutlets
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. garlic salt
3 Tbsp. chopped onion
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/4 tsp. pepper

1. Place turkey cutlets in slow cooker.
2. Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over turkey.
3. Cover. Cook on Low 4 hours.
4. Serve over white or brown rice.

Punkin Biscuits

During our recent Christmas vacation to Eugene, Don and I had the pleasure of planning and preparing Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner for the family. We served a couple of our favorite Early Household recipes which were a little out of the ordinary four our basic meat and potatoes family. But everyone was a good sport and we think mostly enjoyed the new adventures in the kitchen. For Christmas eve we served Garlic and Herbed Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts with Roasted Potatoes, and Spinach Salad with Roasted Pecans, Gorgonzola, and Shallot Vinaigrette. Kristy was particularly excited about learning how to stuff a chicken breast and may be trying some other variations on this soon so keep checking back on the cooking blog! For Christmas Dinner Don made balsamic glazed Rack of Lamb, and we served with apricot glazed roasted asparagus, and cheese and herb stuffed roasted red peppers. Finally, we served with this new recipe I've had my eye on for a while: Pumpkin Biscuits with Orange Honey Butter.

It was a bit of an adventure finding canned pumpkin in the grocery store so close to Christmas and so last minute (Freddy's was all out!), but these were a lot of fun to make. I don't usually do a lot of baking so this was a little different even for me but what a treat. They are so easy even for the inexperienced baker and orange honey butter is delicious. The butter makes quite a bit so be prepared to freeze some or scale back the recipe.

Pumpkin Biscuits with Orange-Honey Butter

Serve at breakfast or dinner with baked ham or pork chops.

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup chilled butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup fat-free buttermilk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
Cooking spray
1/4 cup Orange-Honey Butter

Preheat oven to 450º.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups, and level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (flour through nutmeg); cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Combine buttermilk and pumpkin; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 12 biscuits with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter. Place the biscuits on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 11 minutes or until golden. Serve warm with 1/4 cup Orange-Honey Butter.

Totals include 1/4 cup Orange-Honey Butter.

Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 biscuit and 1 teaspoon butter)

CALORIES 153 (33% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 3.4g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.3g); IRON 1.2mg; CHOLESTEROL 15mg; CALCIUM 68mg; CARBOHYDRATE 23.1g; SODIUM 311mg; PROTEIN 2.9g; FIBER 1g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2003

Orange-Honey Butter

Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

This recipe goes with Pumpkin Biscuits with Orange-Honey Butter

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.

Yield: 1 1/4 cups (serving size: 1 teaspoon)

CALORIES 22 (61% from fat); FAT 1.5g (sat 0.9g,mono 0.5g,poly 0.1g); IRON 0.0mg; CHOLESTEROL 4mg; CALCIUM 1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2.3g; SODIUM 16mg; PROTEIN 0.0g; FIBER 0.0g

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2003