Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pasta with Ham and Asparagus Recipe

This is a recipe I came up with to use up some of my leftover Easter ham.

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and halved
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
about 1 cup diced smoked ham
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
8 oz pasta, cooked according to package and 1/4 cup pasta water reserved (I used spaghetti)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat a large frying pan over medium low heat. Add butter and oil. When butter is melted, add garlic and saute for about a minute. Stir in ham and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add asparagus and pepper; cover and cook for about 10 minutes or til asparagus is crisp tender. With a slotted spoon remove garlic, ham and asparagus from pan; set aside to keep warm.

Increase heat to high and stir in wine. Cook til wine reduces a bit. Add ham mixture to wine reduction and heat through. If mixture appears dry, add reserved pasta water. Remove pan from heat and toss mixture with about 1/4 cup cheese.

I served the ham, asparagus and pan sauce over spaghetti and sprinkled with additional cheese, alongside a thick slice of cheesy Texas garlic toast.
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Grilled Teriyaki Pork and Pepper Kebobs Recipe

My sister Robin told me about this recipe and guaranteed that it was the best teriyaki recipe ever. After a few adaptations, it was.

1 T cornstarch
1 T water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1" fresh ginger, minced
1/4 t ground white pepper
1 lb pork sirloin chops, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 large green pepper, cored and cut into chunks

In a medium bowl, whisk together cornstarch, water, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger and pepper. Divide mixture, reserving half to baste and serve.

Add pork to a container with a lid or large ziploc bag. Add marinade and seal. Marinade pork at least two hours and up to overnight.

Preheat grill over medium high heat.

While grill heats, add reserved sauce to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, til sauce thickens.

Remove pork from marinade. Discard marinade. Thread pork and pepper on skewers. Grill pork and peppers, basting frequently with sauce, til pork is cooked to desired doneness.

I served the pork and peppers over brown rice, and drizzled with the remaining sauce.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d185/d307/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Brown Sugar Baked Ham and Parmesan Asparagus Recipes

I was afraid we weren't going to have ham this Easter, but we managed it. I just LOVE a good smoked ham!

1 semi boneless ham (or whatever kind you like)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar, or as needed to cover ham
1 cup orange juice plus 1 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Place ham in a roasting pan on a rack. Score the top lightly. Press brown sugar all over ham. Add juice and water mixture to  bottom of pan. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil.

Bake 2 hours or as directed on ham package, basting ham about every 20 minutes or so. Let stand lightly covered with foil for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

While the ham rested, I started the asparagus:

Parmesan Asparagus
2 bundles fresh asparagus, ends trimmed
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
fresh lemon juice, to taste

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lay asparagus in a single layer on a baking pan and drizzle with oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 10-12 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and bake another 3-5 minutes or til cheese is melted and asparagus is crisp tender.

Serve drizzled with lemon juice.

I served the sliced ham with horseradish sauce, garlic pull apart rolls and the asparagus.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d42/d305/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Caramel Carrot Cake Recipe

What a simple way to jazz up already delicious carrot cake!

I used my favorite carrot cake and cream cheese frosting as the base. When I first made this cake, I didn't have a stand mixer; it made the job so much easier this time.

2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t ground cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg (optional)
1/4 t salt
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 t vanilla extract
2 cups shredded carrots (about 1 1/2 large)
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 small bottle or jar caramel topping

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, if using. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs til light, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and beat til smooth. Stir in buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Mix well. Slowly add flour mixture to egg mixture, stirring til just blended. Fold in carrots and nuts. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9x13" pan with cooking spray.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35-40 minutes or til a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and let cool completely on a wire rack.

Frost cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Drizzle top of cake with caramel topping. Slice and serve.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese
1 t vanilla
powdered sugar as needed (I used about 2 cups)

In a large bowl, blend butter, cream cheese and vanilla til smooth. Slowly mix in powdered sugar til desired frosting consistency is reached.

Taste and adjust as desired.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d16/d304/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Easy Ham and Cheese Strata Recipe

I decided that even though I couldn't be with my family today, I would still have our traditional Easter Sunday strata. I downsized the recipe to this smaller version.

2 slices bread (I used whole grain wheat), torn into small pieces
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk or half and half
1 t mustard powder
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (4 oz) diced smoked ham

Spray an 8" square baking dish with cooking spray. Sprinkle bread in pan. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk or half and half and seasonings. Stir in cheese and meats.

Carefully pour over the top of the bread. Cover tightly with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Bake strata 35 minutes. Remove foil and bake til set, about 10 minutes more.

Let rest 5 minutes before slicing and serving.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d388/d303/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpghttp://media-files.gather.com/images/d386/d303/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
Variations: Stir in sauteed onion or green pepper or stir in your favorite breakfast meats. Serve with diced tomato.

Shrimp Scampi over Angel Hair Pasta Recipe

Not generally a shrimp eater, this wasn't too bad with the tiny shrimp. The only thing missing was some fresh herbs; parsley would have been a nice addition.

4 T butter, divided
4 T olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, minced
hot pepper flakes, to taste
1 lb mini shrimp, rinsed with cold water and drained well
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
juice from 1 fresh lemon
hot cooked Angel Hair pasta
freshly grated Parmesan blend cheese to serve

In a large frying pan over medium low heat, melt 2 T butter in 2 T oil. Infuse the garlic and hot pepper flakes about 1 minute.

Meanwhile, season the shrimp generously with salt and pepper. Add to the pan and cook 2 to 3 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the shrimp and garlic from the pan; set aside to keep warm.

Increase heat to high and add wine and lemon juice; bring to a boil. Reduce mixture for a few minutes.

Add remaining butter and oil. When the butter has melted, return the shrimp mixture to the pan and bring to a simmer.

I served the shrimp and sauce over the pasta, sprinkled with the cheese and with a thick slice of cheesy garlic Texas toast.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d313/d303/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Mexican Style Deviled Eggs Recipe

This appetizer recipe is usually one of the most popular that I make. I am reposting it for Easter 2010.
It is from my recipe box; I have no idea where it originated.

Feel free to add everything to your personal tastes.

12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
2 T sliced pickled jalapeno peppers, minced
1 T green onion, minced
1 T cilantro, snipped
 1 t mustard (use your favorite variety)
1/4 t ground cumin
salt to taste
chili powder for garnish
sprigs of cilantro for garnish

Cut the eggs in half lengthwise; carefully remove yolks to a small bowl. Mash egg yolks; stir in mayonnaise and the rest of the ingredients (except chili powder and sprigs of cilantro); stir to blend well.

Spoon or pipe yolk mixture evenly into egg white halves.


Garnish with chili powder and cilantro sprigs.

Refrigerate at least an hour before serving. If you can wait that long.

Rachael Ray's Chicken Sauce and Pasta Recipe

I went heavy on the freshly grated nutmeg for this recipe, we both love it.

2-3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
olive oil
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
pinch dried rosemary
pinch dried thyme
pinch dried basil
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1/2 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
hot cooked pasta (I used spaghetti), with cooking liquid reserved
parmesan cheese for serving

Place chicken, onion and bay leaves in a Dutch oven or other pot with tight fitting lid. Add water just to cover chicken. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium low. Cover and poach chicken about 15 minutes.

Cool meat in pot; drain. Remove chicken from pan and shred or chop into small pieces. Discard bay leaves. Return chicken and onion to pot.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add celery, carrot and cook about 10 minutes or til veggies soften. Stir in garlic, herbs and spices and cook a few seconds. Add tomatoes, wine and half and half and bring sauce to a boil. Simmer sauce about 10 minutes.

Add sauce to chicken and onion pot and heat through.

At this point, if mixture appears thick, add reserved pasta cooking liquid.
I served the spaghetti topped with sauce and sprinkled with cheese.
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Mom's Three in One Dish Recipe (Ground Beef, Potato and Pea Casserole)

My mom used to make this dish once in a while when we were kids, and boy, did I hate it! I always asked her to make me some without the peas.

This is my particular version, which doesn't have the tomato soup, which mom's version always used. I used a canned of diced tomatoes and one soup can of milk in place of the tomato soup. Mom would also make it in a crockpot, but I didn't start it on time for slow cooking.

I am not sure why it was called three in one dish.

1 lb ground beef
6 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 small (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, pureed
1 soup can milk
1 cup frozen peas
garlic and onion powder to taste (or your favorite seasonings)
salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, brown ground beef. Drain. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and simmer over medium low heat for about an hour, stirring occasionally.

Uncover and let sit 10 minutes before serving.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d114/d299/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Redbook Magazine's Adobo Chicken Recipe

What a yummy meal! I ended up not having quite enough olives though; more is always better when it comes to cooking with olives.

4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 t smoked paprika
about 1/2 t each: salt and pepper
olive oil
1/4 lb chorizo, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup sherry
1 small can (14.5 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup green olives, sliced
2 bay leaves
pinch thyme

In a small bowl, mix paprika and salt and pepper. Rub chicken with mixture.
Heat a little oil in a large cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium high heat. Brown chicken well; remove from pan and keep warm.

Stir in chorizo, onion, and garlic; sauté about 5 minutes, or til onion is softened.
Add sherry; bring to a simmer and cook for a few minutes. Stir in tomatoes, olives, bay leaves and thyme.

Return chicken to the pan and bring to a simmer; reduce heat to low. Cover and cook 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, til chicken is cooked through and sauce is thickened.

Remove bay leaves.

I served the chicken and sauce over couscous.
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Slow Cooker Orange Pork Roast Recipe

For this meal, I took an existing recipe I had for orange chicken and modified it a bit for a pork roast. It was absolutely delicious!

peanut or sesame oil
1 small pork roast, trimmed and cut into chunks
1/2 onion, chopped
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1 T powdered mustard
1" fresh ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 T cornstarch mixed with 1/4 cup water (optional)
hot cooked white rice
steamed broccoli

Heat a Dutch oven drizzled with a little oil over medium high heat. Brown pork well. Stir in onion and cook for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together remaining ingredients (except cornstarch slurry, rice and broccoli).

Add browned pork to slow cooker. Stir in orange sauce. Cook on high 3-4 hours, or low 6-7, or til pork is very tender.

If using cornstarch slurry, remove pork from slow cooker with a slotted spoon and set aside to keep warm. Whisk the cornstarch slurry into the slow cooker. Cook sauce til thickened. Stir pork back in to sauce and heat through.

I served the pork and sauce over the rice with a side of broccoli.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d12/d296/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Dinner for Two: Redbook Magazine's Lemon Chicken with Couscous and Roasted Green Beans Recipe

This recipe actually called for fish and asparagus, neither of which I can afford. I substituted the still affordable chicken breasts and frozen green beans. I sure wish it would have been asparagus.

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
olive oil, divided
about 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
4 T unsalted butter
1 cup couscous
1 cup frozen green beans
pinch dried thyme
lemon slices, optional

Heat oven to 400°.

Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat about 2 T oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat til very hot. Add chicken and brown on both sides. With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and keep warm.

Add lemon juice (and a little water or broth if desired), scraping up browned bits. Simmer for a couple minutes, til sauce reduces. Taste and adjust for flavor. Return chicken to pan and heat through. Remove pan from heat and stir in butter.

Meanwhile, heat 1 T oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat; add couscous and, stirring constantly, toast about 2 minutes. Add 1 cup water, bring to a boil, remove from heat, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Add beans to a baking pan, drizzle with about 1 T of oil and sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes or til crisp tender.

I served the chicken atop the couscous and drizzled with pan sauce alongside a scoop of green beans.

Serve with a lemon slice, if desired.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d488/d294/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Hearty Lentil Soup II Recipe

The whole point of this meal was to use up a package of spinach I had, but I forgot to stir it into the soup at the end. It sure would've been good in this.

olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
handful baby carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup lentils
4-6 cups water
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
seasoned salt to taste (I used homemade)
salt and pepper to taste
1 potato, peeled and diced
2 generous handfuls fresh baby spinach

In a large soup pot over medium heat, drizzle a little oil. Saute onion, carrot and celery til softened, about five minutes. Stir in garlic.

Increase heat to high. Add water, tomatoes and seasonings. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer covered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking on water level.
Stir in potato; cover and simmer another 20 minutes.

Stir in spinach and simmer another 5 minutes, or til spinach is cooked.

I served the soup with a thick slice of my homemade buttermilk cornbread. The recipe for the cornbread can be found here: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474977273678http://media-files.gather.com/images/d183/d293/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Homemade Pastrami on Rye Sandwiches Recipe

Well, last night's dinner was a bit of a flop. I tried a new method of steaming corned beef rather than slow cooking it, and the meat turned out pretty tough. Also, my bread didn't rise very well and was pretty coarse. The flavor of everything was excellent, however, so that went a long way to redeeming most of the meal.

I've had this recipe saved for a over a year; I have no idea where it originated. Which probably doesn't matter, since I will never steam another corned beef again.

2 T black peppercorns (I used Tellicherry)
1 T yellow mustard seeds
1 T whole coriander seeds, toasted
2 t whole allspice
2 bay leaves
1/4 t caraway seed
1 t garlic powder
1 t ground ginger
1 medium sized whole corned beef, rinsed and patted dry

Add whole spices and bay leaves to a food mill or grinder and coarsely grind. Add to a small bowl and mix with garlic powder and ginger. Press mixture over the entire surface of corned beef.

Fill a large soup pot, with a steam basket added, with water to about 1 inch below the level of the steam basket. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low. Add the beef to the basket; cover and steam til fork tender, about 4 hours. Note: Continue to add water as needed to ensure water doesn't cook off.

Transfer the beef from the pot to a cutting surface. Cover and let meat rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing into thin slices.

I serve the beef atop the rye with grainy mustard, and for Matt, fried onions, along with a dill pickle. Due to how the meat and bread turned out, the sandwiches were served more "knife and fork" style.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d995/d291/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Blackened Sirloin Pork Chops and Sassy Cat's Scalloped Potatoes Recipe

The chops were easy, and Sassy Cat's potatoes were put on my menu as soon as I saw them.

I had actually planned to grill the chops, but cold weather settled in to this neck of the woods so I ended up blackening them and cooking them in a super hot cast iron skillet. I always use my homemade version of Emeril's "Essence" for this. It's much cheaper and has far less salt than his version.

For Sassy Cat's potatoes, I made a couple variations. I added extra soup to make them "soupier" and stirred in some Velveeta cheese near the end. Everything else was left pretty much the same. Why mess with such simple greatness?

Sassy Cat's original easy scalloped potato recipe can be found here:
http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978090211http://media-files.gather.com/images/d453/d290/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Mexican Mini Meatloaf Recipe

A spicy Mexican style meatloaf for one, filled with chiles!

Since I had 1/2 can of green chiles left, I mixed those with some sour cream and used that to serve with the meatloaf. Delicious!

Next time, I will add a draining step to the finished loaf. The beef I used ended up rather greasy.

canola or vegetable oil
1/4 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 small can chopped green chiles
1/2 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/2 cup salsa, divided (I used my homemade habanero salsa)
1/4 cup corn tortillas chips, crushed
1 egg, beaten
1/4 t each: chili powder, ground cumin, Mexican oregano
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350°.

Saute onion in scant oil in a frying pan over medium heat til onion softens, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook a few more seconds. Remove from heat and cool completely.

In a large bowl, mix beef with onion and garlic and remaining ingredients, using 1/4 cup each of salsa and cheese. Place in mini loaf pan; drizzle with remaining 1/4 cup salsa. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or til beef is thoroughly cooked.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and bake another 5 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.

I served the meatloaf with green chile sour cream and additional habanero salsa.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d905/d288/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

What's the Bzz? Starbucks Pike Place Roast and Cafe Verona Coffees

I was pretty excited about this particular Bzz campaign. I've been a coffee drinker all of my adult life and really thought I could do this report particular justice. I've drank bought and coffee at all levels: high end beans you grind yourself, middle of the road grinds, store brands and even generic. I've pretty much had it all.

I was sorely mistaken about this being easy to write up. How do you put into words coffee aroma, taste and flavor and other essential elements to a good cup of joe?

From the Bzz materials:http://media-files.gather.com/images/d938/d285/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
Pike Place Roast: "a smooth, round finish and subtle flavors of cocoa and toasted nuts...", the perfect every day coffee.

Pike Place Roast was a fantastic cup of coffee. It was smooth, not bitter at all. I certainly didn't detect any cocoa or toasted nuts though. I served my cup with a splash of half and half and it was the perfect blend.
The aroma upon first opening the bag was heavenly, just like a good coffee should be!

I give PPR 4 out of 5 mugs. The only negative I found was that it was ground a bit too fine for my tastes and a lot of the grind was left in the coffee pot. I won't drink this. I ended up wasting a fair bit of coffee with this particular roast. While this was great coffee, I wouldn't buy it.

Cafe Verona: "a dark cocoa texture and a roasty sweetness."

Cafe Verona was rather unpleasant to drink. While it mellowed as I drank it, it started out quite bitter.
The aroma when opening the bag reminded me of burnt marshmallows and was almost repellent.
Cafe Verona was also ground too finely for my tastes and a lot of the final brew ended up wasted.

I give CV 2 out of 5 mugs. It did mellow enough to be drinkable, but it isn't a variety of coffee I would ever buy.

While one of the more challenging campaigns I've ever had to express, it was also one of the most enjoyable. It's been a while since I've gotten to enjoy a really good cup of coffee, one provided by the Pike Place Roast variety.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d464/d287/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Easy Ground Beef and Cabbage Soup Recipe

What a great recipe to use up the last of my cabbage.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/4 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 small (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can beef broth
1/4 head cabbage, chopped
about 1/2 t each: garlic powder, marjoram, rubbed
salt and pepper to taste
dilly sour cream to serve (sour cream plus a little dried dill to taste)

In a Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat, brown ground beef; drain. Stir in onion and celery and cook another 5 minutes or so.

Increase heat to high and add remaining ingredients except dilly sour cream. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium low and simmer 35 minutes or til cabbage is crisp tender. If you like a softer cabbage, you can cook this up to an hour (or even longer) if desired.

I served the soup with a cheddar biscuit.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d395/d287/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

The Kitchen Bible's Cocido (Spanish Stew)

The other day, while looking through my cookbook The Kitchen Bible, I came across this recipe. It sounded so good, I just had to make it. I didn't have all of the meats called for, or didn't want to add them, but the stew still turned out delicious.

I made some of those particular meats optional.

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1/2 lb beef chuck, cut into chunks (optional)
4 pork spare ribs, cut into ribs (optional)
1 chorizo link, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups dry white wine (I used chardonnay)
1 ham bone
1/2 cup dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight and drained
1 carrot, chopped
1 bay leaf
1/4 head cabbage, chopped
2 potatoes, peeled and quartered

Heat a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook til fat renders. Stir in onion and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in meats that you chose to use, and brown. If needed, do this in batches.
Stir in garlic and cook another minute. Add wine and cook 3 minutes.

Increase heat to high and add ham bone, beans, carrot and bay leaf. Cover with water. Bring to a boil.

Cover; reduce heat to medium low and simmer mixture about 1 1/2 hours. (Note: keep an eye on the water level, adding more as needed).

Stir in cabbage and potato. Continue to simmer another 30 minutes, or til beans, cabbage and potato are tender.
Remove ham bone and bay leaf and serve.
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Pasta with Chicken and Broccoli Recipe

This didn't turn out as saucy and creamy as I would have liked. I think I added in too much pasta. This is one of the occasional drawbacks of not measuring.

olive oil
1 lb chicken breast tenderloin strips
1/4 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t dried basil, rubbed
1/2 t dried oregano, rubbed
1 1/2 cups frozen broccoli florets
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1/2 cup heavy cream
salt and ground pepper to taste
2 cups pasta, cooked according to package and drained (reserve about 1/4 cup cooking liquid as necessary), returned to hot cooking pot (I used Vermicelli)
freshly grated Parmesan blend cheese

Heat oil in a large deep frying pan over medium heat. Saute onion about 5 minutes. Add chicken, basil and oregano and cook another 5 minutes or so, or til chicken is starting to brown.

Stir in broccoli, tomatoes, cream, and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer; reduce heat to medium low. Simmer about 10 minutes or til broccoli is cooked and sauce is slightly thickened.

Toss chicken and sauce mixture with hot pasta.

I served the pasta garnished with cheese.

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Southern Food's Slow Roasted Pulled Pork on Homemade Kaiser Rolls Recipe

Low and slow was the name of this game.

I really liked the unusual flavor in the sauce, due to the addition of the cinnamon and nutmeg in the barbecue sauce.

Measurements are approximate.

1 small pork roast, trimmed of some excess fat
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup ketchup
2 T cider vinegar
2 T chili powder
1 t brown sugar
1/2 t salt and black pepper
1/2 t celery seed
pinch ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
liquid smoke, to taste
hot sauce, to taste
cider vinegar and hot sauce to finish, to taste

Preheat oven to 325°.

In a Dutch oven, brown pork on all sides; place in a small baking pan.

Meanwhile, mix the next 11 ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over pork and cover tightly with foil.

Bake about 4 hours, or til roast is very tender. (The baking time will depend on the size of the roast. After 4 hours, my roast was falling apart).

Remove pan from oven and add a little cider vinegar and hot sauce to pork. Mix everything with pan drippings. Shred as desired. Taste and adjust as desired.

I served the pork on warm Kaiser rolls with a side of coleslaw.

The recipe for the homemade Kaiser rolls can be found here: http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474978118066http://media-files.gather.com/images/d569/d282/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Taste of Home's Kaiser Rolls Recipe

Thank you to David W. who found this recipe for me.

Since I didn't have the full six cups of flour the original called for, I cut the recipe in half. I also used my bread machine to make the dough, saving a lot of work for me.

The rolls turned out just perfect!

2 1/4 t (1 pkg) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water, divided
2 T sugar, divided
3 T canola oil
1 t salt
3 cups flour
1 egg white
1 t cold water
poppy seeds

In bowl of bread machine, dissolve yeast in 1/4 cup warm water; let rest 10 minutes or til frothy. Add 1/2 T sugar; let stand another 5 minutes.

Add the oil, salt, remaining warm water, sugar and flour. Process on dough cycle. Keep an eye on dough for first few minutes. If dough appears dry, add a bit more water. If dough appears too wet, add more flour.

Remove dough from bread machine and turn out onto a lightly floured surface; divide into 8 pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place about 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Cover and let rise til doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Beat egg white and cold water; brush over rolls. With scissors, cut a 1/4 inch deep cross on tops of rolls. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.

Bake 15-20 minutes or til golden brown. Remove rolls from pans to wire racks to cool.

Slice in half before filling.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d568/d282/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Epicurious Chickpea Stew with Fresh Spinach Recipe

It was that time of the week: healthy meal time!

This was excellent! If you can, use the ghee and don't make any substitutions; the flavor is so much better this way.

about 2 T ghee
1/2 onion, chopped
1 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
1 t ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
about 3 cups water
1 small (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes
sea salt to taste and freshly ground black pepper to taste
couple generous handfuls baby spinach leaves
garam masala to taste (I used about 1/2 t)
hot cooked brown rice
plain yogurt

In a Dutch oven, heat ghee over medium high heat. Saute onion til just golden brown. Stir in spices.
Increase heat to high. Add chickpeas and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low; cover and simmer about 1 1/2 hours. (Keep an eye on the water level, adding more water as needed).

Stir in tomatoes and salt and pepper. Simmer another 1/2 hour, or til chickpeas are tender.

Stir in spinach and garam masala. Remove from heat and let sit 5 minutes or til spinach is wilted. Taste and adjust as desired.

I served the stew with a dollop of rice and yogurt.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d288/d281/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Allrecipes' Shredded Roast Beef Burritos Recipe

This recipe came in my newsletter and it got added to the menu right away.

These were delicious, although next time I think I would stuff some Mexican rice in them.

canola or vegetable oil
1 small beef roast, trimmed and cut into chunks
1/2 onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 small can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes
1 small (4 oz) can diced green chiles
1 1/2 T chili powder
1 1/2 t cumin
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t onion powder
4 burrito size (extra large) flour tortillas, warmed
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
1 cup shredded lettuce

Heat a little oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Brown roast beef chunks.

Stir in the onion and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic. Mix in tomatoes, chiles and spices. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Add mixture to a slow cooker. Cover and cook over high heat 3-4 hours, or low 6-7 hours, or til meat is very tender. With a slotted spoon, remove meat from juices in cooker and set aside. At this point, you can shred the meat, but I found it wasn't even necessary as the meat was so tender it didn't even need it.

Place tortillas on a flat work surface. Add beef mixture to the center of each warm tortilla. Sprinkle evenly with cheese and lettuce. Fold over ends and sides to make a package.

At this point, I stuck them in the microwave to heat for a few seconds, but that is optional.

I served the burritos with salsa.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d886/d279/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Shame on You, Del Monte

A couple of months ago, Gather ran a promotion in which they were giving away coupons for free cans of Del Monte products, your choice.

I started searching through the canned goods at a local supermarket the other day, concentrating on the tomato products. I am generally not fond of either canned vegetables like peas or corn or canned fruits.

Well, to my complete surprise, many of Del Monte's canned tomato products contain HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP! Is there any reason whatsoever that this cheap filler needs to be added to canned tomatoes? Oh yes, I can think of one: increased profits for Del Monte Corporation. Needless to say, I quickly returned the can of tomatoes to the shelf.

After several more minutes of searching, I finally did find a canned product that met my needs. And I was quite surprised to find that it did. Del Monte makes a canned fruit salad with pineapple chunks and papaya in passionfruit juice. It was excellent! The fruit tasted very fresh and tart.
Del Monte's Fruit Salad in Passionfruit Juice:http://media-files.gather.com/images/d551/d277/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg
Overall, however, nothing can redeem Del Monte in my eyes. For one, their products are almost twice as much as the store brands (and the Kroger and Meijer store brands in my area are just as good as any national brand). Secondly, adding cheap fillers to products always results in my decreased respect for a company. I consider myself an educated consumer and I will not be duped by companies that add this (or any other unnecessary "additive") to their products.

Buyer beware.

Thai Chicken Curry with Spinach Recipe

I got the idea for this curry from a comment made on a recipe from The Splendid Table newsletter, in which they mention making a green curry with cilantro and coconut milk. I had plenty of chicken and spinach on hand as well, so I added that to make the dish really hearty. It was most excellent!

canola oil
1/4 onion, sliced thinly
1 jalapeno, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1" fresh ginger, minced
1 t cumin
1 t coriander
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1 (14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 T fish sauce, or to taste
sea salt to taste
couple handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves
fresh lime juice to taste
handful fresh cilantro leaves
hot cooked white rice

Heat a large saucepan over medium heat and add a little oil. Saute the onion and jalapenos for a few minutes to soften. Stir in garlic, ginger and spices and cook another minute or so.

Add coconut milk, chicken broth, fish sauce and salt and bring to a simmer. Add chicken. Stir together and simmer over medium low heat for 10 minutes.

Stir in spinach and cook another 5 minutes, or til spinach wilts.

Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and and cilantro.

I served the curry with white rice.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d904/d275/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Slow Cooker Cuban Style Pork and Black Bean Stew

This is probably the best this dish has ever turned out for me. The flavor was excellent!

canola or vegetable oil
1 small pork roast, trimmed and cut into chunks
1 onion chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 T Adobo seasoning (I used my homemade)
1 t each: oregano and cumin
4 cups water
1 cup dried black beans
fresh lime juice to taste
fresh cilantro leaves, snipped, to serve

Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add a little oil.

Add pork chunks and brown. Stir in onion and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, Adobo and spices, and cook another minute or so.

Increase heat to high and add water and beans; bring to a simmer.

Carefully add mixture to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on high 1 hour. Reduce heat to low and cook on low 4 hours, or til beans are tender. Stir in lime juice. Taste and adjust as desired.

I served the stew with cilantro (with mine having a dollop or two of The Flying Scotsman Habanero Hot Sauce). That sauce is posted here: http://www.gather.com/viewImage.action?fileId=3096224746274458http://media-files.gather.com/images/d460/d274/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg

Easy Cajun Chicken Pasta For One Recipe

Kroger had chicken breast tenderloins on sale this week, and they really come in handy for a dish like this. I didn't have to do any cutting of raw chicken.

vegetable oil
1/4 onion, chopped
4 chicken breast tenderloins, (or one breast, cut into strips)
2 t cajun seasoning, divided (I used homemade)
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 jarred roasted red pepper, drained and chopped
splash heavy cream
splash dry white wine (I used Chardonnay)
hot cooked pasta (I used Vermicelli)
freshly grated parmesan (optional)

In a large frying pan over medium heat oil til hot. Saute onion til softened, about 5 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove onion from pan and set aside.

Add more oil to pan if desired.

Meanwhile, sprinkle chicken liberally with Cajun seasoning. Cook chicken til just golden brown on each side. Remove from pan and set aside to keep warm.

Add onions back to pan along with seasoning, tomato, red pepper and wine; simmer 5 minutes.

Add cream and bring back to a simmer.

Add chicken back to pan; heat through.

I served the chicken and sauce atop the pasta and garnished with Parmesan cheese.http://media-files.gather.com/images/d165/d272/d746/d224/d96/f3/full.jpg