Thursday, December 30, 2010

Butternut Squash Risotto

½ Large Butternut Squash (or one small)
4 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Tablespoons Butter (divided)
½ Cup Finely Chopped Onion
1 Cup Arborio Rice
¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/8 Cup Whipping Cream
Salt to Taste

1. Cook Squash in Microwave for 10 minutes remove and scoop pulp out of skin.(reserve (the pulp not the skin)).
2. Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat; cover and reduce heat to low. Keep warm
3. Meanwhile melt 1 Tbls. butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add onion and saute until translucent. Add rice and cook until just beginning to brown. Stir in ½ cup stock; cook 1 minute.
4. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low; add ½ cup of hot broth, stirring constantly until liguid is absorbed. Repeat procedure with remaining broth, ½ cup at a time. Total cooking time should be around 30 minutes. Stir in cooked squash, stirring to smooth out.
5. Stir in Parmesan Cheese and Cream along with remaining butter. Season with salt to taste.

Serve Immediately (serves 6-8 sides)

Revised from Southern Living, Dec. 2008

Sunday, October 17, 2010

A New Diet

The middle of August found my wife and myself checking into a new diet, well actually an old diet just not one we had done. It's called counting calories. Well needless to say I just had to have a new cookbook (any excuse I can find) we looked and settled on the "Weight Watchers in 20 minutes" following is just a few recipes that I have used and have found to be wonderful. Since "Weight Watchers" included the nutritional values I thought I would pass them along as well. Some of the recipes I do as is and some I change after I have made it at least once their way.

Feel free to experiment with them as you see fit,I am sure you will enjoy.


1 pound lean ground beef (7% fat or less)
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
4 whole wheat hamburger buns (split)
4 tomato slices
4 sweet onion slices
4 green lettuce leaves

1. Combine the beef, tomato paste, cumin, cinnamon, salt, and pepper in a bowl. With damp hands shape the mixture into 4 (½-inch-thick) patties.
2. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add the patties and cook until an instant read thermometer inserted into the side of a burger registers 160 degrees, about 4 minutes each side.
3. Put a burger on the bottom half of each bun and top with 1 tomato slice, and 1 lettuce leaf. Cover with the tops of the buns.

Per Serving (1 garnished burger): 280 calories, 8 g Fat, 3 g sat fat, 1 g trans fat, 64 mg chol, 735 mg sod, 22 g carbs, 4 g fib, 29 g prot, 79 mg calc.

We enjoy the burgers as is but have found that if you add a few chopped mushrooms and a little chopped onion to the mixture, it adds a whole new dimension. Hope you enjoy


1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
¼ cup Louisiana-style hot sauce
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 pound skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut on the diagonal into 1-inch wide strips
3 carrots cut into ¼ inch matchsticks
4 celery stalks cut into ¼ inch matchsticks
½ cup fat- free blue cheese dressing

1. Combine the pepper sauce, hot sauce, and Worcestershire sauce in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a boil; reduce the heat and simmer 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add 1 teaspoon of the butter, stirring until melted.
2. Melt the remaining 2 teaspoons of butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, stirring, until browned and cooked through, 8 – 10 minutes. Add the hot sauce mixture and cook, tossing, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the chicken to a serving bowl and serve with the carrots, celery, and blue cheese dressing.

Per serving (1 chicken breast half, about 1/3 cup carrot sticks, and ½ cup celery sticks, and 2 tablespoons dressing); 231 cal, 7 g Fat, 3 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 77 mg chol, 805 mg sod, 15 g carb, 3 g fiber, 26 g prot, 71 mg calc.

We enjoy as is but feel free to adjust for yourself.


2 tablespoons light cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
4 slices whole wheat bread
2 tablespoons strawberry or raspberry all-fruit spread
1 large egg
2 egg whites
3 tablespoons fat free milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch nutmeg
1 cup hulled and sliced strawberries

1. Spread the cream cheese evenly on 2 slices of the bread, leaving a 1/8 inch border. Spread the strawberry spread on the remaining slices of bread, leaving 1/8 inch border. Put the slices of bread together to make 2 cream cheese-fruit sandwiches.
2. Beat the egg and egg whites in a large shallow bowl or pie plate; whisk in the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add 1 sandwich to the egg mixture; let stand until evenly soaked, about 20 seconds each side. Repeat with the other sandwich
3. Spray a large nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium high heat. Add the sandwiches to the skillet and cook until browned, 2-3 minutes on each side. Serve with the berries.

Per serving (1 sandwich and ½ cup strawberries) 321 cal, 96 g fat, 0 g trans fat, 118 mg chol, 427 mg sod, 44 g carb, 7 g fib, 17 g prot, 141 mg cal.

My wife and I love this, and I am not a big fan of French toast, we do not even have the strawberries with it and it is great as is. Be sure to experiment with other flavors of fruit spread.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Lemon Curd Ice Cream


This could just be called lemon ice cream, but it reminded me so much of lemon curd, which I love, love, love! A friend had a BUNCH of lemons she didn't want so when a friend gives me lemons, I make ice cream (I don't care for lemonade-although I did have some delicious homemade lemonade this evening).

I used my favorite vanilla bean ice cream recipe and altered it to incorporate the lemons.

1 cup whole milk
A pinch of salt
¾ cup vanilla sugar *
1 tbsp lemon zest
½ cup lemon juice
4 large egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream

1. Heat the milk, salt, and sugar in a saucepan until warm. Cover, remove from heat.

2. To make the ice cream, set up an ice bath by placing a 2-quart (2l) bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice and water. Set a strainer over the top of the smaller bowl and pour the cream into the bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, lemon zest and lemon juice. Gradually pour some of the warm milk into the yolks, whisking constantly as you pour. Scrape the warmed yolks and milk back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula, until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula.

5. Strain the custard into the heavy cream. Stir over the ice until cool, then refrigerate to chill thoroughly. Preferably overnight.

6. Freeze the custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

* Used vanilla beans can be rinsed and dried, then stored in a bin of sugar to infuse the smell and flavor of vanilla into the sugar. I use vanilla sugar to add a hint of vanilla without the overpowering effects of vanilla extract and beans. This ice cream is a perfect example of how vanilla sugar can be used to compliment a flavor without being dominant. You could use regular sugar and add a drop or two of vanilla after the custard has been cooled in the cream.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Peach & Blueberry Galette

One of my favorite parts of the the hot, humid and miserable summer is glorious fresh berries! We had the most perfect day (only in the upper 70's while we were out in the fields and the bushes were full of big, fat, sweet, delicious (Okay, I'll stop) blueberries.
With a bucket full of fresh blueberries on my counter, I began to plan what I was going to make over the next couple of days. First thing that came to mind was homemade cottage cheese (Oh, how I love homemade cottage cheese and fresh may be the most perfect summer meal). Next was this peach and blueberry galette! I happened to see peaches on the counter beside the blueberries and I thought they would make a perfect pair.
This galette is so pleasing because you're indulging in excellent pie crust and lots of it (my favorite part!) but you also get to truly enjoy the sweet and delicate flavors of the fresh fruit without being overpowered with sugar or cornstarch that you find in the filling of traditional pies.
I used my favorite pie dough from Cook's Illustrated. I rolled it out thin and then placed it on a buttered cookie sheet.
I cut 2 peaches in half, removed the pit and then made very thin slices, I would say thinner than an 1/8 of an inch. I fanned the peaches in a single layer then piled on the blueberries, leaving an inch or two of crust to fold up. I worked the crust up and over the edge of the fruit and brushed the crust and fruit with melted butter. I then sprinkled 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar (I keep a container of sugar with a used vanilla bean ---I removed the inner bits for making ice cream and then dried the outer bean and stored it with the white sugar) over the fruit and pie crust.
Baked at 400 degrees for 35 minutes and then cooled for 15-20.
The only thing I would change...I would sprinkle 2 tblsp of the sugar directly onto the peaches before piling on the blueberries then finish with the rest of the sugar on the crust and blueberries.
I take that back...I would change one more thing. I would sprinkle the tiniest bit of salt over the top of the peaches to contrast the sugar and maybe even add a touch more salt to the crust since there is sugar on top of the crust. I don't care for sugary sweets, but when nicely balance with a bit of salt then I'm a happy camper :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Grilled Portabello Mushroom Burger

I use these in place of hamburger meat when our family grills burgers and dogs. My husband prefers the beef, but I'm happier not having it.

Remove the stem and lightly drizzle or brush olive oil on both sides of the mushroom. To the underside of the mushroom, I sprinkle salt, onion powder and garlic powder then grill top side down to start. You're looking for the mushroom to start releasing it's liquid, which will take some time....but wait for it! If you take it off before it's had a chance to get soft and juicy it won't taste good and the center, where it's thickest, may not be cooked through. I give it a good 6-7 minutes per side and maybe more if it's thick. Add a slice of cheese before you take it off the grill and stack it on a bun with lettuce, tomato and mayo (or your favorite burger toppings).

It's meaty, without all the fat and the heavy feeling in your gut after a burger.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Grilled Mahi Mahi

I've been working to incorporate more seafood into my diet...I hear it helps to trim the waist :) This recipe has won a spot on our regular menu. And what Mormon family doesn't love a main dish that can be served with rice!

3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 cloves minced garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
mahi mahi filets (I use this recipe for 6 filets)
Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients except the fish in a gallon size zip lock bag or a 13X9 baking dish. Add the fish, coat with marinade and let sit for at least 20 minutes and even up to 1 hour. I use the frozen filets from Sam's Club and often forget to thaw my fish ahead of time. I rinse them in cool water to break off the outer layer of ice, add the fish to the marinade and then let them thaw on the counter while they're soaking up the marinade goodness. If your filets are thawed ahead of time, let your fish marinade in the refrigerator.

I choose to pepper after the fish has marinated as I have non-pepper eaters in the house. This way the pepper doesn't contaminate the marinade. I also think this would be awesome with fresh ginger, but I'd use less than the ground ginger as fresh can have quite a bite.

These can be pan fried, but I prefer the grill. If you pan fry, use a little oil or spray in a non-stick pan. Cook until fish flakes (about 5 minutes per side depending on thickness of filet).

You may also reserve some of the marinade before adding the fish then reduce the extra marinade in the same pan you fry your fish in to make a sauce to top your fish. We've found the extra sauce isn't necessary but can be a nice addition.
Last night, I only had 4 mahi mahi filets and I knew that would not feed my family so I threw in a couple handfuls of jumbo shrimp to marinade for 10 minutes or so. Grilled these up and they were a hit! Although, I have to admit...I think the only shrimp my family wouldn't eat is shrimp that's still frozen, but that's even questionable.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Picture compliments of Joythebaker

I finally bought an ice cream maker and we're having so much fun! I'm having to exercise more as my restraint is weakening. I've never been a person to eat much ice cream because I just don't care much for it. But when you make it yourself and you can customize the taste and texture, boy oh boy, I'm a sucker for ice cream now!

Here is the first recipe we made and so far, our favorite. I found it on this website and fell in love the description the author penned for it. I was hooked from the words. Unfortunately, I had used all our cornstarch for diaper rashes and had none for ice cream at 10:00p.m. and wasn't willing to go to the store. I substituted unflavored gelatin (I used 1.5 tsp, but should have used at least 3 tsp or maybe even more). It did not set up while in the ice cream maker, but froze beautifully and was nice and soft when it came out. We made it again with corn starch and the texture was better in the ice cream maker and a nice scoopable yet firm texture once frozen.

Double Chocolate peanut Butter Ice Cream

2 1/2 cups whole milk

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

double pinch of salt (I like a bit more salt with my chocolate so I doubled from the original recipe)

3 Tablespoons cornstarch

1/2 cup heavy cream

3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

3/4 cup smooth salted peanut butter

In a sauce pan over medium heat, stir together 2 cups whole milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Heat until the milk start to steam, but before it starts to boil.

In a small bowl, stir together the remaining 1/2 cup of whole milk and the cornstarch. Stir until no lumps remain.

Add the cornstarch mixture to the heated milk and chocolate mixture and bring to a low boil. Boil until thickened. The mixture will look the consistency of chocolate pudding. Remove from flame.

In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup of heavy cream. Once boiling, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Let sit for 1 minute, then stir the cream and chocolate mixture until incorporated.

Stir the cream and chocolate mixture into the cooling chocolate ice cream base. Place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap or a lid, and put in the fridge until cool.

Once cool, follow the manufacturers instructions on the ice cream maker to churn ice cream. Once the mixture has chilled and thickened in the ice cream maker, slowly drizzle in 1/4 cup of peanut butter (we nuked the peanut butter for 15-20 seconds to make it nice and thin for a lovely pouring consistency). Don’t over mix. You want a nice ribbon of peanut butter running through the ice cream.

Transfer the ice cream into a freezer safe container and fold in the remaining 1/4 cup of peanut butter (we drizzled in 3/4 cup while the ice cream maker was running and did not stir in any at the end). Cover and freeze until solid.

Birthday Shrimp

Today is my husband's birthday and I made him a surf and turf lunch. Here is a fast and tasty way to prepare shrimp:

1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper (we don't do spicy so use as much as you would like for a spicy kick)
2 tbls butter
2 tbls oilve oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup ginger ale
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 lbs shrimp - peeled and deveined
salt, to taste

In a small bowl, stir together your dry ingredients - garlic, onion, thyme, sugar, basil, rosemary, paprika and cayenne.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat, add olive oil. When the oil is hot add minced garlic; cook about 1 minute. Add the shrimp and cook for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle shrimp with the spice mixture-use as much or as little as you like-and continue to cook and stir until shrimp is pink all over. Pour on the ginger ale and balsamic vinegar; simmer until shrimp is cooked through, about 1-2 minutes more. Taste and season with salt before serving.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Turkey Cutlets

I've recently discovered the key to tasty poultry is brining. It works well on pork too, but I've mostly been using it for turkey and chicken which tend to dry out once it is thoroughly cook. Basically, a brine is a salt (and sometimes sugar) solution with the liquid usually being water. The meat is then placed in the solution where it then absorbs the water as the salt relaxes the muscle structure allowing it to retain more moisture during the cooking process thereby resulting in moister end product.

WOW, I sort of felt like Alton brown for a minute---but not completely. I did not go into how there are two positively charged ions in table salt and how they interact with the positive and negative protein molecules in meat (hence the relaxing of the meat structure).

So brining is awesome and you should try it! If you only have 20 minutes, brine! It will help.

On to the turkey cutlets....

1 package turkey breast cutlets (about 1 1/2lbs 1/4-1/2 inch thick)
1/4 cup table salt
4 cups cold water
gallon size ziplock bag

1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs (approx 1 cup dried bread crumbs)
3/4 cup flour
2 eggs
1 tbsp olive oil, plus olive oil for frying

Add cold water to ziplock bag and dissolve 1/4 cup salt into the water. Add turkey cutlets and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Or if you're like me and wait to the last minute to thaw your meat, you can leave your bag on the counter top for the 30 minute period to finish thawing while brining.

While waiting for my turkey, I make my bread crumbs. I take 4-5 slices of white bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes then put in the food processor and pulse a few times. You may certainly use dried bread crumbs (I've used both), I prefer the taste of fresh.

Prepare 3 dredging bowls-
1 with flour
1 with 2 eggs and 1 tbsp olive oil
1 with bread crumbs

Remove the turkey from the bag and place onto an absorbant cloth or paper towels. Press firmly to remove as much water as you can then allow to air dry for 10 minutes. Once they are dry, season with pepper if you would like (we don't) and prepare to dredge.

Add oil to your pan, you're looking to have enough oil to fully cover a cutlet halfway up the side. So if your cutlets are 1/4 thick then you need a smaller amount of oil than you would need for a 1/2 thick cutlet (this would be more like a flattened chicken breast). I usually start with 1/2 cup. Heat the oil over medium-high heat until rippling begins.

Now dredge lightly. The order is flour, egg, bread crumbs. Shake off any excess flour, you want a very thin coating. Use tongs to remove cutlets from egg and bread crumbs or you will quickly find that your fingertips are unusable.

Once oil is hot, add 3-4 pieces to the pan...don't overcrowd! leave plenty of room for each edge to brown. Once you see a deep golden brown color inching up the side of the cutlet, turn it over. This should only take a minute or two for very thin cutlets.

Continue to use the oil if you do not see dark brown bits adhering to your cutlets. I usually find I can get two batches out of 1/2 cup of oil. Beyond that, the bits in the pan are burning and don't taste so good on your turkey. If you need to do more than two batches or you're working with thicker cuts of meat, pour off the oil, wipe pan clean with paper towels and start again.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Beef Stew (aka Carnivore Euphoria)

This is one of my most favorite dishes, ever! Do I say that a lot? :) But really I mean it this time. This is so good. I gave some to a friend and her husband and she sent me a thank you note telling me that is was so delicious, it was like carnivore euphoria. I thought that was the perfect explanation for this rich, meaty beef stew.

You will need a Dutch oven or a large overproof pot at least 6 quarts in size, but 8 quarts is preferable.

3lbs beef chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
salt and pepper
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups (approx 1 can) beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried thyme
4 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup frozen peas, thawed

Adjust your oven rack to accomodate your Dutch oven on the lower middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Thoroughly dry the beef with paper towels (this is crucial) then season generously with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tbsp oil in the oven-proof Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the meat so that the individual pieces are close but not touching, this allows you to perfectly brown each piece without stewing your meat.

Cook the meat until side touching the pan is well browned, 2-3 minutes. Using tongs, turn each piece and continue cooking until most sides are well browned, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the beef to a medium bowl, add another 1 tbsp of oil to the pan and brown the remaining beef in the same manner, transfer to the bowl once brown.

Reduce heat to medium, add the remaining 1 tbsp oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onions and 1/4 tsp salt. Cook stirring frequently and vigorously, scraping the pot bottom with a wooden spoon to release the brown bits. Cook until onions are softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in flour and cook until lightly colored, 1 to 2 minutes. Add 1 cup beef broth scraping up the remaining brown bits and stir until liquid is thick. Gradually add the remaining beef and chicken broth, stirring constantly and scraping the pan edges to dissolve all the flour. Add bay leaves and thyme, bring to a simmer. Add the meat and juices from the bowl, return to a simmer. Cover and place the pot in the oven. Cook for 1 hour.

Remove the pot, add potatoes and carrots, cover and return to oven. Cook until meat is just tender, about 1 hour. Remove the pot from the oven. Add peas, cover and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaves. Serve immediately. If you're not serving immediately, omit the peas and refreigerate for up to three days. Bring to a simmer over medium-low heat, then add peas as instructed above.

Cherry Coulis

My wonderful husband often runs errands for me and often brings back surprises that make me smile...usually food related :) One evening he brought home 6lbs of cherries. My children suddenly decided they did not like cherries and so I had to think quick! Cherry coulis came to mind. I first thought it would be nice over vanilla ice cream, then I was faced with planning a dish to take to cultural cooking with an Italian theme and Panna Cotta came to mind! I made this cherry coulis for a lovely sweet and tart resting place for the cold, creamy panna cotta.

1 cup fresh cherries
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons sugar

Cook fresh cherries in water to cover over medium heat until they are falling off the pits; drain.

Place in a small saucepan with water; add orange and lemon juices. Heat until warmed through.

Press through a fine sieve into a bowl. Stir in sugar while still hot. Stir until dissolved.

Panna Cotta

This is my kind of recipe...simply, few ingredients and delicious!

This recipe comes from my New Best Recipes Cookbook that I have come to love and not be able to live without. My husband had purchased 6lbs of cherries and they were not pie cherries and I didn't know what to do with them. I decided to make a cherry coulis and panna cotta to serve with it (I think you would normally choose the panna cotta and then determine what to serve with it, but in this case I had too many cherries about to go to waste so my thought process was a bit backwards).

1 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
3 cups heavy cream
1 piece vanilla bean, 2 inches long or 2 tsp vanilla extract
6 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt

Pour the milk into a medium saucepan; sprinkle the surface evenly with the gelatin and let stand for 10 minutes to hydrate the gelatin.

This is what hydrated gelatin looks like.

While waiting for your gelatin to hydrate, place 2 trays of ice cubes into a large bowl and add 4 cups of cold water.

Measure cream into a large measuring cup or pitcher. With a pairing knife, slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the vanilla seeds into the cream; place the pod in the cream along with the seeds and set the mixture aside.

Set eight 4 oz ramekins on a baking sheet. (I can count and I do know this is 12, not 8---I was taking this to a party where we were sampling a lot of Italian food so I opted for smaller portions in more ramekins)

Heat the milk and gelatin mixture over high heat, stirring constantly, until the gelatin is dissolved and the mixture registers 135 degrees on and instant read thermometer, about 1.5 minutes. Off the heat, add the sugar and salt; stir until dissolved, about 1 minute.

Stirring constantly, slowly pour the cream and vanilla into the saucepan of milk, then transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and set the bowl over the ice-water bath.

Stir frequently until the mixture thickens to the consistentcy of eggnog and registers 50 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 10 minutes.

Strain the mixture into a large measuring cup or pitcher, then divide it evenly among the ramekins. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic does not mar the surface of the cream; refrigerate until just set (the mixture should wobble when shaken gently), about 4 hours.

To serve, spoon some berry coulis onto each individual serving plate. Pour 1 cup boiling water into a small, wide-mouthed bowl, dip a ramekin filled with panna cotta into the water, count to 3, and lift the ramekin out of the water. With a moistened finger, lightly press the periphery of the panna cotta to lossen the edges. Dip the ramekin back in the hot water for another 3 count. Invert the ramekin over your palm and loosen the panna cotta by cupping your fingers between the panna cotta and the edge of the ramekin. Gently lower the panna cotta onto the serving plate with the coulis. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What's Cooking in Sisters- February Edition

We had planned to get together with my sisters-in-law the first Sunday in February and try recipes from the What's Cooking In Sisters Cookbook that Nick's grandma had given me years ago, but the Snowmagedden Twin Blizzards crushed that idea. We got 3 feet of snow in 5 days. Crazy! However, as I was snowed in with the ingredients and a lot of time on my hands I gave it a go. So here are the 2 recipes I tried: STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD (PAGE 31), AND SKILLET MAC & CHEESE (PAGE 53)

STRAWBERRY PRETZEL SALAD (Nancy suggested 'salad' might be a stretch)

Layer 1:
2 1/2 C crushed pretzels (don't crush too finely)
3/4 C butter, melted
3 T sugar

Mix all intredients and put in the bottom of a 9x13" pan. Bake in preheated oven 400 for 8-10 minutes.

Layer 2:
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 C sugar
9 oz Cool Whip

Blend Cream cheese and sugar and fold in cool whip. Spread on cooled crust

Layer 3:
2 sm pkgs strawberry jello
2 C boiling water
2 pkgs (10 oz each) frozen strawberries

Dissolve jello in boiling water. Stir in frozen strawberries. When partially set, put over second layer. Refrigerate until set.

I've had this a zillion times at my moms house, but the addition of the frozen strawberries was new. I didn't like them- they were kind of a squishy texture, plus added quite a bit of expense. Leave out the strawberries and you'll be fine. And please serve as more of a dessert.

1/4 C butter
2 C uncooked elbow macaroni
1/2 C onion, chopped
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp oregano, dried
1/4 tsp dry mustard
2 C water
1 1/2 T flour
1 can evaporated milk
2 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 T minced parsley, dried.

Turn electric skillet to 200 and melt butter. Add macaroni, onion, salt, pepper, oregano and dry mustard. Turn heat to 260 and cook, stirring occasionally for 5-7 minutes, or until onion looks clear. Add water and bring to a boil. Cover the mac and simmer at 200 for 6-12 minutes or until the mac is tender. Sprinkle flour over the mac mix and stir to mix well. Stir in the evap milk and shredded cheese. Simmer 5 min longer at 200 or until the cheese completely melts. Stir occasionally while it cooks. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Serves 6.

First, I never put parsley in any recipe, ever. So I don't know if that adds anything or not. I didn't have dry mustard so used yellow mustard,and I threw in about twice what it asked for (I figured, heck! I like mustard!). That did make it have a mustardy flavor which wasnt' bad, but was there. And I think the sharp cheddar made it too zippy- I'd go more mild next time. I didn't have oregano so used italian seasonings.

Be aware this might be best served on paper plates as it hardens into a cementy glue that is impossible to remove unless it is severely scraped. I didn't have a electric skillet so just used a frying pan on top of the stove. We thought it was ok on a snowy afternoon.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cream of Tomato Soup

I received a fabulous Christmas gift and have been using it a lot. The New Best Recipe Cookbook is my new favorite toy. It is 1000+ pages of recipe goodness, but it goes beyond the recipe---they do all the testing for you and explain why they use particular methods, which brands worked out best and how to shortcut without sacrificing flavor and texture. It's like Alton Brown in text and without all the goofy themes and gadgets.

This cookbook has become my go-to for anything! You'll be seeing lots of recipes based off this book (I still change things,'s my nature).

Cream of Tomato Soup
Serves 8

4 (28oz) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice (NOT in puree), drained, 6 cups juice reserved
3 tablespoons brown sugar
8 tablespoon (1 stick) butter
5 large shallots, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
pinch ground allspice
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream
salt, to taste

1. Heat oven to 450. Prepare tomatoes for roasting. With your fingers, carefully open the whole tomatoes over a strainer set in a bowl and push out the seeds, allowing juices to fall through the strainer into the bowl. Arrange seeded tomatoes in a single layer on two foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

NOTE: The foil is essential; it keeps the tomatoes from scorching and sticking to the baking sheet.

2. Once seeded tomatoes are on the foil-lined baking sheets, sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let the tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off the foil.

3. Heat butter in a large pot over medium heat until foaming. Add the shallots, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally until shallots are softened, 7-10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Whisking constantly, gradually add chicken broth; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Strain the mixture into a bowl, reserving the liquid and putting solids and about 1 cup of liquid back in the pot. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Add remaining strained liquid back to the pot and combine. Add the cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

May be refrigerator for up to 2 days, warm over low hear until hot, do not boil.

Original recipe called for:

(1) 3.5 cups of chicken stock and 6 cups of reserved tomato juice. I happen to have 3 cups of chicken stock on hand and did not want to open another can for only 1/2 cup. So when my tomato juice measured out at 6 3/4 cups I just threw it all in. I would say use 2 (14 oz) cans of chicken stock for ease of use.

(2) dark brown sugar, but I had light brown sugar on biggie.

(3) cayenne pepper was optional, as you probably know, my family doesn't do spice so I left this out. Kick it up however you'd like. I add fresh ground black pepper to my bowl so that I'm not contaminating the entire pot.

(4) 4 tablespoons Brandy or dry sherry was to be added after adding cream and removing from heat. I don't cook with these so I omitted.

(5) 8 shallots were called for, but after chopping up 5 large shallots, I was done! 5 was more than enough, unless you really enjoy mincing up these little eyeball burners.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Monkey Bread

Monkey Bread by Jackie Gerland
page 57 What's Cooking In Sisters cookbook

I'm not even going to post the real recipe. It was not a hit for me. It is a yeast bread and involves letting it rise twice. The dough was so sticky I couldn't roll it in sugar so kind of put little parts in the pan and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar on it. Results were not nearly sugary enough.

This is the tried and true recipe I've had a zillion times that is so much easier (compliments of the good folks over at Pillsbury)

2 cans refrigerated biscuits
1/2c sugar
1t cinnamon
1 c brown sugar
3/4 c butter or margarine, melted
1/2 c chopped walnuts and/or raisins if desired

Heat oven to 350. Lightly grease a bundt pan with cooking spray. In large plastic bag mix white sugar and cinnamon. Cut biscuits into quarters, place in bag and shake to coat. Arrange in pan adding raisins and walnuts among biscuit pieces. In small bown, mix brown sugar and butter, pour over all. Bake 28- 32 mintues until golden brown. Cool in pan 10 minutes, turn upside down onto serving plate. Pull apart to serve; serve warm.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Ala Julie and Julia I thought it might be kind of fun to cook my way through a cookbook that my husband's grandma had given me a long time ago. It was put together by the Friends of the Library in Sister's Oregon and is kind of kitchy. She died recently, so I thought it would be a good way to remember her and then also my sisters in law are all foodies so thought it would be a fun way to be closer to them, as well.

The What's Cooking in Sisters cookbook has some funny recipes (How to Catch A Cowboy, page 98) and some old classics I already know (Strawberry Pretzel Salad page 31). Some of the recipes have funny comments (in a vegetable soup recipe the instructions include "to make this recipe low fat, add less bacon)

We started last night with the first recipe on the first page. One thing you will find about me is I never follow a recipe exactly. I either don't have all the ingredients or I think I can improve it somehow. I'll put the correct recipe first and then my variations to follow.

Italian Stuffed Mushrooms (Funghi Imbotitti) by Steve Prince
What's Cooking in Sisters page 1

6tsp butter or margarine
1/2 C unseasoned bread crumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
6 tsp onion, finely chopped
2 tsp. parsley, finely chopped
4 tsp parmesan cheese, grated
olive oil
24 fresh mushroom caps

Melt butter in pan. Add bread crumbs and garlic and mix. Transfer to a bowl. Add onion, parsley and cheese; mix. Fill mushroom caps.

Lightly oil bottom of a glass casserole dish. Put in filled mushroom caps. Bake in preheated 325 oven approx. 30 minutes. IF you have put too much oil in dish and they are oily place on paper towel before serving. Will serve 6 people 4 caps apiece.

Buon appetito!

(Emily's variations- I used Pam instead of olive oil and left out the parsley. I didn't do the transfer to a bowl and ended up with maybe 30 mushrooms since some were real small)

We thought this was pretty good! We served them at the New Year's Eve gathering at Brooks house last night. I do have a photo but my card reader isn't working right now so I'll post it later