Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ham and Potato Bake

{courtesy of Betty Crocker's Good And Easy Cookbook}

I have spent a long time mocking recipes like these...{classic toddler-esque reaction of "I don't like it" without even trying it}...but you know what? I tried it and I'M SOLD. Couldn't get enough of this one. Yum Yum Yum. I'll never mock a recipe again.

1 package (1 lb 4 ounces) shredded or cubed hash browns
1 cup fully cooked ham, diced
1 can (11 oz) condensed cheddar cheese soup
4 eggs
1/2 cup milk

1. Grease 9x13 casserole dish
2. in large bowl, mix soup, eggs and milk. Add potatoes and mix well. Optional: add a handful or two of shredded cheddar. I thought what the hay and threw it in.
3. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until top is light brown and center is set.

EXCELLENT for a brunch, I think. I threw in a bag of frozen broccoli so I wouldn't feel guilty about feeding this to my family for dinner. I'm sure you could add ANY vegetable.......

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Virgin Mint Julep

My sister in-law, Shara, gave me her AMAZING recipe for this drink. And not only is she a real born-and-bred Southern girl, but she's also a KENTUCKY girl--so she knows her mint juleps. I personally tasted this when I was down there two weeks ago, and I can attest: it'll brighten up ANY party!

Virgin Mint Julep

4-5 mint sprigs
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups cold water
3/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1 1/2 qt ginger ale
Thinly-sliced lemon slices (for garnish)

Rinse the mint and discard the stems. Place sugar, water lemon juice, pineapple juice in a medium-sized bowl, mix, and stir in the mint leaves. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Fill a large pitcher with ice cubes. Strain the liquid over the ice. Add the ginger ale and lemon slices and serve. Definitely a Southern party favorite! Thanks, Shara!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

Another Giada de Laurentiis recipe. These are de-licious!

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 lemon, zested

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the large bowl combine the butter and the sugar. Using an electric mixer beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated. Add the ricotta cheese, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Beat to combine. Stir in the dry ingredients.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 2 tablespoons for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. Bake for 15 minutes, until slightly golden at the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.

Combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir until smooth. Spoon about 1/2-teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread. Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Tofu Satay with Peanut Sauce

Are you a fan of delicious flavor?

This is the BEST recipe I've tried in a long time. The dish tasted like something you would get at a Thai restaurant. The peanut sauce is phenomenal; I've tried probably half a dozen peanut sauce recipes in the past, and never really liked any of them. This one is far and away the best I've tried. If you're not a tofu-lover, you could do the exact same recipe with chicken instead of tofu (just increase the cooking time a bit).

Step 1) Cook some brown rice. Steam some vegetables (I used broccoli and carrots).

Step 2) Prepare the tofu. Cut a block of extra-firm tofu into 1-inch cubes. Put them in a bowl with a cut-up red bell pepper. Marinate them for 15-20 minutes in a mixture of 2 T. soy sauce and 2 T. sesame oil.

Step 3) Make the peanut sauce. No cooking necessary. Just place the following ingredients into your blender or food processor and whir them up: 3/4 c. coconut milk, 1/2 c. peanut butter, 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 1/2 t. curry powder, 1 1/2 T. brown sugar, 1 T. fresh lime juice, 1 T. canola oil, 1 1/2 T. soy sauce.

Step 4) Pour 1/3 of the peanut sauce mixture over the tofu and red peppers. Spread the mixture, single-layered, into a baking dish. Bake 20-25 minutes in a 450-degree oven.

Step 5) Assemble. Brown rice plus steamed veggies plus baked tofu plus extra peanut sauce poured over the top. Top with crushed peanuts, if you like!

I'm not even messing around. This is so good.

Wheat Pancakes

Wheat Pancakes

1 1/2 c. whole wheat berries (wheat straight from the bag, NOT flour)
1 1/2 c. milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 c. oil (You can substitute applesauce for the oil with no problems)
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp soda
3 Tbsp. brown sugar

Soak wheat in one cup milk for about 5 minutes. Blend.
Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Cook on griddle.

To thicken: add more wheat berries or flour.
To thin batter: add more milk.
You can add cinnamon, etc. for more flavor.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Spinach Pasta Chicken Salad

Recipe given to me from BWeed (who recommended involving a lawyer to sort out who gets the leftovers...and it is that good).

Spinach Pasta Chicken Salad
1/2 C. oil
1/2 C. sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sesame oil
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs seasoned oregano rice vinegar
1/2 tsp sesame seed oil
1 tsp grated fresh garlic

1 sm package baby spinach
1 package bowtie pasta (cooked, drained, and cooled)
2-4 Tbs sesame seeds
1/2 C. sunflower seeds
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 C. sprouts
3 chicken breasts (cooked, seasoned heavily with lemon pepper and cut into bite-sized pieces)

Mix dressing ingredients together, set aside. In large bowl, combine salad ingredients. Add dressing to salad and mix together. Enjoy.

**I topped each serving with a few chow mein noodles**
**I used olive oil instead of sesame oil (b/c I didn't have any)...still tasted great**
**I used 1/2 tsp of jarred minced garlic instead of grated fresh**
**I couldn't find seasoned oregano rice vinegar, so I used seasoned rice vinegar**

Friday, May 9, 2008

Maca-tofu-roni and Cheese

I am aware that I am opening myself up to more mocking from Chris by posting this, but I can't resist: I'm thrilled with this recipe! I made it with whole-wheat rotini so it was the healthiest mac 'n' cheese I've ever had, nearly as quick and easy as the stuff in a box, and pretty yummy too.

10 to 12 ounces elbow macaroni (or other short pasta shape such as cavatappi)
12.3-ounce package silken tofu
2 tablespoons nonhydrogenated margarine
1 1/2 cups firmly packed grated sharp cheddar cheese
Salt to taste

Cook the macaroni in plenty of rapidly simmering water until al dente, then drain.

Meanwhile, puree the tofu until perfectly smooth in a food processor or blender. Transfer to a medium sauce pan and add the margarine and cheese. Slowly bring to a gentle simmer (NOT a boil), stirring often, then cook over low heat until the cheese is thoroughly melted.

Combine the cooked macaroni and sauce in a serving container and stir together. Season with salt to taste and serve at once.

VARIATION 1: For a little more kick, add any of the following you like to the sauce: 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 2 t. cayenne pepper, a dash of hot sauce, 1 t. dry mustard, or a few twists of black pepper.

VARIATION 2: Top with seasoned breadcrumbs and bake in a casserole dish at 400 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden and crusty.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Alfredo Pasta Pie with Toasted French Bread Crust

Recipe from BWeed

16 oz. package spaghetti, cooked and drained
18 (-ish) thin slices French bread
1 C. shredded white cheese (recipe calls for swiss, I used mozzarella)
2 Tbs. fresh basil or 2 tsp. dried basil
1 jar alfredo sauce
3 roma tomatoes, diced
Parmesan cheese

Butter bread. Place bread butter-side up in a 9x13, going up the sides of the pan. Bake about 10 minutes at 350º or until slightly golden. Mix cheese with alfredo sauce, add basil, then toss with pasta. Spoon into baked crust. Sprinkle tomatoes over the top. Lightly press ingredients down into crust. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. bake 15-20 minutes or until hot.

Sweet Love Pasta Pie

Recipe from BWeed

16 oz. tube pasta
22 oz. marinara sauce
2 c mozzarella
1/2 c Parmesan cheese
bread crumbs

Cream Sauce Ingredients:
1 Tbs butter
1 1/2 c cream
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/3 c Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside in large mixing bowl. Cook cream sauce by melting the butter and cream together, stirring often and watching carefully. When cream mixture boils, stir in nutmeg and Parmesan cheese. Reduce heat and cook 3 more minutes, stirring. Add cream mixture to pasta, then add marinara sauce. Add mozzarella cheese to the noodle mixture and stir well. Pour into greased/sprayed 9x13 pan. Sprinkle the top with a bit more nutmeg, then sprinkle with break crumbs and 1/2 c of parmesan cheese. Bake 25 minutes at 375º.

More Deceptively Deliciousness

Just tried this one out on a friend's recommendation, so good. I have heard it works well with strawberry or raspberry preserves as well.

-Nonstick cooking spray
-2 cups old-fashioned oats
-1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 cup sugar
-1/2 tsp. cinnamon
-1/4 tsp. baking powder
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
-3/4 cup Balance trans-fat-free soft tub margarine spread, chilled
-1 cup low-sugar blueberry preserves (I used strawberry, yum.)
-1/2 cup spinach puree

Preheat oven to 375°. Coat an 8" x 8" baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and vanilla and stir to mix well. Add the margarine and cut it quickly into dry ingredients with two knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal and is no longer powdery. Do not overmix—bits of margarine will still be visible.

Set aside about half of the oat mixture; press the rest firmly into the pan. Bake until lightly browned at the edges (but not fully baked), 13 to 15 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the preserves with the spinach puree in a small bowl.

Spread blueberry mixture over the partially baked oat layer, then sprinkle with reserved oat mixture. Bake until topping is slightly browned, 20 to 25 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely before cutting into 12 bars. (You have to let them cool completely, so the spinach flavor can disappear.)

-Prep: No prep at all for baby spinach. For mature spinach, fold leaves in half lengthwise with the stem outside, then strip the stem off the leaf.
-Cook: Steam for 30 to 40 seconds, or cook in a skillet with 1 tablespoon of water for about 90 seconds, or just until wilted.
-Puree: In a food processor or blender for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Couscous Salad with Tomato and Mint

So in an attempt to cook with less salt, I have a goal of trying one new fresh herb every week. This week the herb was mint, which has always scared me...I've tasted some dishes with mint that were really bad. Anyway, this couscous salad (from the Food Network website) was my first mint attempt (I made it for lunch today) and I thought it was great! The method of boiling the couscous water gave really great flavor, and I ended up loving the combination of parsley and mint.

3 cups (about 1 1/2 pints) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
2 kirby cucumbers, seeded, and diced
1 lemon, juiced
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups instant couscous (a 10-ounce box)
2 cups water
2 wide strips lemon zest
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup torn mint leaves, stems saved
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, stems saved
3 scallions (white and green), chopped
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts, optional

Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon juice in a bowl with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Set aside.

Put the couscous into a large bowl. Bring the water, lemon zest, 3 tablespoons of the oil, the remaining salt, cayenne, and herb stems to a boil over high heat. Pour the liquid over the couscous, stir to separate any clumps. Cover with a lid, plate, or plastic wrap, set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the zest and herb stems and fluff with a fork.

Add the tomato mixture, scallions, mint, parsley, and pine nuts. Drizzle the remaining oil over the salad, toss and serve.

Pasta with Red Pepper-Feta Sauce

This one is Elie Krieger. And wow...YUM. Really tangy and delicious and easy.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 cup crumbled feta cheese or a 6-ounce block
1 pound whole-wheat fettuccine
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Saute onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers and saute until heated through. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Place mixture in the bowl of a food processor with stock and all but 2 tablespoons of the feta. Process until combined and smooth, about 30 seconds. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Toss pasta with sauce, adding pasta water by the tablespoon, if needed. Sauce should cling nicely to pasta. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Divide among pasta bowls. Sprinkle with parsley and remaining feta cheese.

Basil Chicken Hash

An Ina Garten recipe. My husband loved this. I just did the whole thing in one pan, instead of two like the recipe recommends.

2 whole (4 split) chicken breasts, bone-in, skin-on
16 basil leaves
Olive Oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and large diced
2 red onions, chopped
2 red bell peppers, large diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 minced scallions, white and green parts
1/4 cup chopped fresh leaf parsley
Sour cream, Cheddar and sliced lemons, for serving

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the chicken breasts on a baking sheet. Loosen the skin from the meat with your fingers, leaving one side attached. Place 4 basil leaves under the skin of each chicken breast. Pull the skin over as much of the meat as possible so the chicken won't dry out. With your hands, rub each piece with olive oil and sprinkle very generously with salt and pepper. Bake the chicken for 35 to 40 minutes, until the skin is lightly browned and the chicken is just cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones. Cut the chicken in large dice pieces and set aside.

Melt 4 tablespoons of the butter in a large saute pan. Add the potatoes and onions, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until evenly browned and cooked through.

In a separate saute pan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter. Add the red peppers, garlic, thyme, paprika, tomato paste, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and saute over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the edges of the peppers are seared.

Add the chicken and the pepper mixture to the potatoes and heat through. Add the scallions and parsley, toss together and place on a serving platter.

Vegetarian Meatloaf (with lentils) Lentil Log

Note: This is a response to the request for lentil recipes. I actually haven't tried this one yet, but it's on my to-make list. It's a Giada de Laurentiis recipe (credit where credit is due, right?) If anyone else tries it first, let me know how it goes!

Checca Sauce:
1 pint cherry tomatoes (about 2 cups, or 12 ounces), halved
3 scallions (white and pale green parts only), coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch salt
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Lentil Loaf:
3/4 cup lentils (about 5 ounces)
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice, rinsed well
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 celery rib, sliced
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
2 tablespoons butter, divided
10 ounces fresh baby spinach leaves (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups cubed whole milk mozzarella cheese, divided (about 8 ounces total)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 tablespoons
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tomato, sliced

For the Checca Sauce:

Combine the cherry tomatoes, scallions, garlic, basil, and oil in a processor. Pulse the tomatoes until they are coarsely chopped, being careful not to puree. Set aside. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.

For the Lentil Loaf:

Place the lentils in a large saucepan of cold water. Bring the water just to a boil over high heat. Carefully drain the boiling water and rinse the lentils. Meanwhile, in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat, bring the broth to a boil. Add the rice and return the liquid to a boil. Decrease the heat to low, cover the rice, and gently simmer without stirring for 10 minutes. Stir in the lentils, onion, carrot, and celery. Cover and continue cooking without stirring until the rice and lentils are tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 30 minutes longer. Turn off the heat. Sprinkle the corn over the rice and lentils and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff the rice with a fork. Cover and let stand for 5 more minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread 1 tablespoon of the butter over a 10 by 4 1/2 by 3-inch loaf pan. In a heavy, large skillet, cook the spinach over medium heat until the spinach wilts, about 3 minutes. Drain and squeeze the excess liquid from the spinach. Transfer the spinach to a work surface and coarsely chop.

In a large bowl, gently mix the lentil mixture, spinach, 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese, eggs, 1/4 cup of Parmesan cheese, basil, salt, pepper, and half of the checca sauce. Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Arrange the sliced tomatoes in a row over the lentil mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese. Dot the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter.

Bake uncovered until the loaf is heated through and the topping is melted and starting to brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Slice the loaf into 2-inch slices, arrange on plates, and serve with the remaining checca sauce.