Thursday, December 1, 2011

Best Bran Muffins

I decided to make bran muffins the other day, and used a recipe I found using All Bran cereal soaked in buttermilk. I didn't have enough honey and I probably didn't take care to measure everything exactly, but the result was so bad, I had to throw them out. Of course, I then became obsessed with making a better bran muffin -- and read somewhere never to use the cereal, but to buy the real live bran....

Low and behold the best bran muffin recipe. I made them last night and they are wonderful. Next is banana bran...

1 1/4 c. flour
1 c. toasted wheat bran
1/4 c. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 c. skim milk
1/4 c. molasses (or honey)
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 egg whites
3/4 c. raisins

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine dry ingredients; mix well. Combine milk, molasses, oil and egg whites -- mix dry and wet together. Stir in raisins. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake 20-22 minutes

For Banana Bran Muffins -- omit raisins, reduce milk to 2/3 c. Substitute 2 medium mashed bananas.

Can't wait!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Turkey Stock and Vegetable Soup

Happy After Thanksgiving! My brother-in-law Mark made a delicious turkey soup after Thanksgiving one year, and I've been committed to making it happen in my kitchen ever since. Last year, it was a meaty soup with veggies and rice -- not sure where I found the recipe... but this year I changed it up a bit. I made the stock on Saturday (pretty much all day) and then the vegetable soup last night. I, for one, LOVED it! I think my soup eating son also gave it a thumbs up. Picky daughter said never again, kind loving son said, "Sorry Mom, but no." Husband (the pickiest of the bunch) moved the contents around the bowl and somehow got it down. He kept calling it stew (as if that is a derogatory word). I'll make it again, but make something else for Daughter, Son #2, and Husband.

Carcass of the turkey
Bay leaves
Garlic (smashed)
Peppercorns (smashed)
Water to cover

Bring to a boil then simmer for 3 hours on the stove. Pour off the the stock, throw away the solids, return to simmer pot, and simmer (and skim) for two hours.

Vegetable Soup

To 1/4 c. oil, add one chopped onion, one chopped celery stalk, and one chopped carrot. Cook for about 5 minutes. After veggies are softened, add a few cubed potatoes, 6 cups of stock, a 15 oz. can of chopped tomatoes, a chopped Parmesan cheese rind, some salt and pepper and cook for about 15 minutes. After the potatoes are softened, add a cubed zucchini. Cook for another 15 minutes.

Absolutely delicious!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Creole Jambalaya

With Border's going out of business, I decided it was time to scoot over there and find myself a new cookbook. I selected a big old loose leaf number from Southern Living, and decided I'd try to work a few new recipes into the weekly rotation. This is one of those recipes that has all the stuff we like to eat in one dish -- but don't be fooled, that doesn't always add up to a make again. This evening I was pleasantly surprised... it WAS universally well received. It took a while to make, although the food processor was a bit help with the prep work. I also had to abandon my stove top skillet and move to the electric skillet when it became evident that it wouldn't all fit. This recipe made enough for two dinners at my table. I think I'll add shrimp next time for a bit more diversity in protein...

2 T. butter
1 large onion chopped
1 green pepper chopped
8 green onions chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 c. cubed cooked ham (1 pound)
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced (I used turkey sausage)
1 8 ounce can of tomato sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground red pepper
5 c. hot cooked rice

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and next 3 ingredients; saute until tender. Add ham and next 5 ingredients. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice; cover and cook over low heat 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cooking for 15 on vacation

We just returned from a week in Hilton Head with my in-laws, two brother-in-laws, two sister-in-laws and lots of cousins. We all had separate sleeping quarters, but ate dinner together every night. Our condo was the dinner condo -- so I usually bought and sort of prepared the main course, and the S-I-L's brought the sides. I think it went pretty well (thus, my need to record it here)

Night One -- Lasagna, Bread and Salad (I brought spaghetti and a jar of sauce by Allison brought frozen lasagnas so we used those)
Two -- Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, deviled eggs, baked beans, fruit salad
Three -- Fajitas (I brought the marinade from home, we threw in flank steak and chicken), black beans, refried beans
Four -- Out to eat
Five -- Pizza ordered in
Six -- Fish and Shrimp (wish I had a good sesame tuna steak recipe), Rice Pilaf, grilled veggies, pasta salad
Seven -- LEFT OVERS (more hamburgers, hot dogs, etc.)

Here's my shopping list(s):
Shopping List Take:
Cereal (Cherrios, Frosted Flakes, Cinnamon Toast Crunch)
Pancake Mix (dry ingredients for buttermilk pancakes)
Spaghetti Sauce
Soda – Mountain Dew Coke and Diet Coke
Peanut Butter
Salad dressing (Gazebo room, small ranch)
Fajita marinade (see below)
Plastic wrap
Gallon and quart bags
Almonds or nuts
Olive Oil
Big chicken stock box (4 1/2c.)

Shopping List when I get there:
Butter (to cook with)
Bob Evans sausage
Orange Juice
Fruit (Pineapple, Bananas, Oranges, Apples)
Deli Cheese
Gd. Beef
Hot Dogs
Buns (Hamburger and Hot Dog)
Flank steak
Chicken breasts
Frozen pizza (2x)
Popsicles (or ice cream sandwiches)

The only thing I really wish I had taken that I didn't was my griddle for morning breakfast. Other than that, I think it was a success. For next year!

Fajita Marinade (I doubled this for the 15 of us)
1/3 c. minced cilantro
1/3 c. fresh lime juice
1/3 c. water
4 t. dried oregano
1 T. ground cumin
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
5 garlic cloves

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quick White Bean Asparagus and Mushroom Cassoulet

This sounded absolutely delicious when I read it in Cooking Light (April, 2011). Not for the whole family, but for me -- spot on. I made it last night and I was right, it IS delicious -- and probably even more so, had a actually cooked the white beans. I'm still working on my dried bean skills.  I can't wait to make this again.

Quick White Bean, Asparagus and Mushroom Cassoulet
5 c. water
1 lb. aspargus
2 T. olive oil
10 oz. mushrooms, sliced (they called for chanterelle or oyster; I used baby portobello)
3 shallotts, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves minced
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth (I used chicken)
1/2 t. oregano (or majoram)
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    Again, I used 8 oz. dried beans, soaked and then cooked for 1 1/4 hr)
1/4 t. ground black pepper
2 oz. French bread cut into 1" cubes
1 T. butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. Bring 5 c. water to boil in a large stainless-steel skillet, and add asparagus to the pan. Cover and cook 2 minutes; drain. Rinse asparagus with cold water; drain well. Set aside.
2. Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1 T. oil, swirling to coast. Add mushrooms, shallots, and garlic; saute 8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add wine; cook 3 minutes or until liquid evaporates. Stir in broth, oregano, and beans; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, and cook for 12 minutes or until thick and beans are very tender.
3. Preheat broiler
4. place French bread and butter in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Add the remaining 1 T. oil and cheese to coarse breadcrumbs; pulse until combined. Stir asparagus into bean mixture; sprinkle coarse breadcrumb mixture evenly over bean mixture. Broil 3 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown.

Black Bean Salsa

We're just getting started with summer, and I've already made two big batches of this delicious and nutritious recipe. I think it's great for those hot summer pot lucks where potato salad is a bit worrisome -- last time I made it, a neighbor said she'd like the recipe -- a sure sign that I should probably post it and get it into regular circulation.

Black Bean Salsa
2 cans of black beans, drained
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/2 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 bunch scallions, sliced
one ear of corn, cooked and kerneled
1 c. picante sauce
1 clove chopped garlic
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 t. of cumin
1 t. of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Mix it all up and take it to a picnic! I've also added additional veggies like carrots if I have them around the house.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pasta with Sun Dried Tomatoes

I've been trying to lose weight. Counting calories, exercising, doing everything right.  But there are times when you just want to eat whatever you want to eat.  I have been sort of stumped in the kitchen of late (thus the lack of new posts) and wanted to make something the kids liked for dinner.  I have a list of 22 things they will eat, but amazingly, not many corresponding recipes -- so I thought I'd address the issue. I have on the list "Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes" but couldn't find whatever recipe I made that the kids liked... so I looked on food network and Ina Garten came through with a very calorie laden (but delicious) recipe that was universally adored. (Maybe without the olives next time)


    * 1/2 pound fusilli (spirals) pasta
    * Kosher salt
    * Olive oil
    * 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium-diced
    * 3/4 cup good black olives, such as kalamata, pitted and diced
    * 1 pound fresh mozzarella, medium-diced
    * 6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

For the dressing:

    * 5 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
    * 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    * 6 tablespoons good olive oil
    * 1 garlic clove, diced
    * 1 teaspoon capers, drained
    * 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    * 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    * 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
    * 1 cup packed basil leaves, julienned


Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together. Boil for 12 minutes, or according to the directions on the package. Drain well and allow to cool. Place the pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan and basil, and toss well.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Glazed Salmon, Rice Pilaf, Chocolate Cake

We don't entertain enough. I really don't feel like I'm very good at it, and it seems to make my husband sort of crabby. It's like exercise -- hard to initiate but once you get into it (and when it's over) you're really glad you did it.  We had three couples over last night, and it worked out pretty well.  I served glazed salmon from a recipe in Cook's Illustrated; rice pilaf from the New York Times cookbook and roasted asparagus.  At the last minute, I also included wilted spinach.

I was also craving a chocolate cake -- so on Friday night I made (from scratch) a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting (also NY Times).

We survived, the food turned out pretty well (the cake was bit dry, but I think the salmon was perfect) -- and our guests stayed until midnight. I think it was successful... and I want to invite more people over now. Mostly to eat all the cheese and crackers that this group didn't touch!

Glazed Salmon
1 t. light brown sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. cornstarch
4 center cut salmon fillets (6 to 8 oz. each)
1 t. vegetable oil
1 recipe glaze

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine brown sugar, salt, and conrnstarch in small bowl. Pat salmon dry with paper towels and season with pepper. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture evenly over top of flesh side of salmon, rubbing to distribute.

2. Heat oil in 12-inch ovensafe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place salmon, flesh side down, in skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip salmon and cook on skin side for 1 minute.

3. Remove skillet from heat and spoon glaze evenly over salmon fillets. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until center of thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees on instant-read termometere and is still translucent when cut into with paring knife, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer fillets to platter or individual plates and serve.

Asian Barbeque Glaze
2 T. ketchup
2 T. hoisin sauce
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. light brown sugar
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. toasted sesame oil
2 t. Asian chili-garlic sauce
1 t. grated fresh ginger

Whisk ingredients together in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-high heat; simmer until thickened, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and cover to keep warm

Rice Pilaf
1/3 c. finely chopped onions
6 T. butter
2 1/4 c. rice
4 1/2 c. boiling chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
2. Saute the onions in the butter in a heavy casserole until tender and transparent but not brown.
3. Add the rice and continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until rice grains turn opaque. Do not allow rice to brown.
4. Add the stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover tightly and bake for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for 15 or 20 minutes longer, or until rice has absorbed all the stock.

One Bowl Chocolate Cake
2 c. sifted cake flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 c. plus 2 T. cocoa
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. plus 2 T. vegetable shortening
1/2 c. warm water
2/3 c. milk
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Sift together in the bowl of an electric mixer the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cocoa and sugar. Add the shortening, water, milk, eggs and vanilla and blend on very low speed until the ingredients are moistened. Mix 3 minutes on medium speed, scraping the bowl ferqently to ensure complete blending. Do not include scraping time in the 3 minutes.
3. Pour the mixture into two 9-inch layer cake pans that have been greased and lined with wax paper circles cut 1/8 inc smaller than the bottoms of the pans.
4. Bake until the cake rebounds when pressed gently in the center, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in the pans on a cake rack 10 minutes before removing from the pans. Cool and frost as desired.
2 eggs

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Best Black Beans EVER

So, how did I get to be this old and have NEVER prepared dry beans.  I've read folks who say that beans from scratch are the best, but honestly, I was a bit intimidated.  I think it's because I once tried to do them in the crock pot and they were grossly undercooked...yuck.

But for some reason, I bought two pounds of dry black beans last grocery trip, and I made a point of trying to make them. The thing that is even more exciting is that I didn't really follow a recipe.  Here's what I did:

Around 3pm I put about a 1/2 pound of beans in a pot, added 4 cups of water and brought it to a boil.  Let it boil about 3 minutes, then covered the pot and let it sit for an hour.

Drain the beans

Around 4pm I chopped an onion, chopped a celery stalk, and chopped a jalapeno.  Cooked them in a bit of olive oil until tender (5 minutes or so...) added the beans and about 4 cups of fresh water.  I got that up to a boil, then turned down the heat to simmer for about 2 hours (or so)

When the beans seemed tender, I used my immersion blender to mix it all up -- then stirred in about 1 cup of  Mexican cheese.

Okay, I know it's immodest, but these beans were fabulous!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Blueberry Coffee Cake

We had a bunch of blueberries hanging out in the fridge, and my husband uncharacteristically wanted to bake something with them.  We got out the cookbooks and starting looking for something to do, and stumbled upon a recipe in the Gourmet Cookbook for Blueberry Almond Coffeecake.  I didn't have the almonds, so we made it without them... and it was so delicious that I made a second one to take to mom's for Christmas!

Sometime I'm going to make these and pass them out to all those friends and neighbors who gave us cookies at Christmas...

Blueberry Coffee Cake
2 c. flour
2 t. baking powerd
3/4 t. salt
1 stick butter, softened
1 1/4 c. sugar
2 large eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. whole milk
15 oz. blueberries

Put rack in the middle of oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Butter a shallow (2 1/4 inch deep) 2 to 2 1/2 quart baking dish. 
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. combine butter and 1 1/4 c. sugar in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in whole eggs, one at a time, beatuing well after each addition, then beat in vanilla.  Reduce speed to low and ad flour mixture and milk alternatively in batches beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just incorporated.  Fold in berries.  Spoon batter into baking dish and spread evenly.

Bake until golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean... 50 minutes to 1 hour.  Cool inpan on rack for 10 minutes. Invert cake onto rack then invert again. Serve warm or at room temperature.