Sunday, October 31, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Extras would freeze well. This would be a pretty awesome lunch when thawed in the microwave. Ten zillion times better than a factory produced pocket, filled with salt and preservatives.
Weirdly, as I made it, I couldn't remember anything about it. Each step I'd say to myself, "I don't remember this ingredient" or "I don't remember doing this part."
Originally, we were going to have this for Meatless Monday and calzones last night, but I didn't thaw my bread dough in time. So two vegetarian recipes in a row, you lucky ducks. Aren't you glad it's not another stew?
Spring Ravioli with Pesto Cream
2 tsp olive or vegetable oil
3/4 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
1/2 medium yellow pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 roma (plum) tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 tsp salt
16 oz frozen cheese-filled ravioli
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tbsp basil pesto
2 tsp grated lemon peel
1. Heat oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pepper about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender. Stir in tomatoes and salt. Cook 3 minutes.
2. While vegetables are cooking, prepare ravioli as directed on package. In the last minute of cooking, add peas to thaw. Mix sour cream, pesto and grated lemon peel in a small bowl.
3. Toss hot cooked ravioli with vegetable mixture and sour cream. If desired, garnish with fresh basil leaves and lemon peel.
The Verdict: Pretty yummy...and ridiculously easy!
When I asked Noyan what he thought, he asked if I made the ravioli. (Did you see me sweating and swearing all afternoon in the kitchen? Well then, no, I didn't.) For some reason, the idea that it was "found" ingredients put together made it feel less homemade to him. While I suppose that's true, I didn't make the pasta nor the pesto, I think it's a little bit like shopping at Pottery Barn. You can get a bunch of stuff and put it in a room, but if it doesn't compliment everything else, it's going to look terrible. But with a good eye, you're going to put together a room that makes everyone say "Wow!"
The sour cream takes on the pesto taste, muting just enough to give you a nice hint of basil. Then the basil tastes great with the yellow pepper. The sauce itself is just enough to make the ravioli creamy instead of pasty.
Pesto tends to be on the pricier side of groceries, but since you only use 3 tablespoons, you get a lot of bang for your buck. You can even freeze the leftover pesto, though apparently the nation of Italy would keel over at the idea of freezing olive oil. But I won't tell if you won't.
Saturday, October 23, 2010
I really thought I'd taken pictures, but apparently we were all in such a hurry to chow down on hot apples topped with crunchy, sweet topping, I forgot. Sorry about that.
6 medium cooking apples, sliced
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup quick-cook or old-fashioned oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/3 cup cold butter
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In an ungreased 8-inch square pan or a glass pie dish, spread the apples.
2. In a medium bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, oats, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cut in butter, using a pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over apples.
3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and apples are tender when pierced with a fork. Serve warm, with ice cream or cream if desired.
The Verdict: Prepare for a fight for the leftovers.
While this is cooking, your house will smell amazing. The apples, cinnamon and sugar all melt together, creating the most wonderful fall aroma you can imagine. The topping is great--crispy and sweet. It is plentiful, though. I'm not exactly complaining, but you'll see what I mean when you're sprinkling and sprinkling and sprinkling topping over apples for what feels like whatever.
This was a last minute decision to make, so I didn't have any ice cream to accompany it. But a good vanilla, like Ben & Jerry's, would be out of this world with it.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, October 19, 2010
What do you get when you have a bag of carrots, a stick of butter, and a bunch of time to cook them? Um, let's try pure heaven. Otherwise, you'd call it a French classic à la Julia.
Carottes Glacées (Glazed Carrots)
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled, quartered and cut into 2-inch lengths
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 tbp granulated sugar
pinch of pepper
6 tbsp butter
2 tbsp very finely minced parsley, or 1 tbsp dried parsley
1. Boil the carrots slowly in a covered saucepan with the stock, sugar, pepper and butter for 30 to 40 minutes until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a syrupy glaze.
2. Serve on a hot dish and sprinkle with parsley.
The Verdict: Although half asleep, Amir ate these by the fistful. I wasn't asleep but ate them by the fistful as well.
OK, OK--that's a lot of butter for a bunch of carrots. But the syrup over an already sweet vegetable is amazing. They just melt in your mouth.
By the way, the whole bit about 2" quartered carrots? Or the part about the hot dish? Yeahhhh right. Great idea that makes me imagine duly impressed dinner guests, but since I was just feeding the Kinaymans on a Friday night, it was bagged, peeled, and cut baby carrots served in a porcelain dish. Try these carrots. You could serve them on a paper plate and you'll still hear angels singing.
Monday, October 18, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
You have to appreciate a good pasta sauce that doesn't have you bent over a pot for four hours like Strega Nona. That's what interested me about this recipe. Inside of 30 minutes, you have sauce, meat and pasta. That's a wholesome meal before you can answer Bob the Builder's age-old question, "Can we build it?" The original recipe is from the April 2010 Cooking Light, but I tweaked it a bit.
Spaghetti with Sausage
and Simple Tomato Sauce
8 oz mild Italian turkey sausage
8 oz uncooked whole wheat spaghetti
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes, undrained
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tbsp jarred, minced garlic
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup fresh torn basil
1/2 cup shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1. Preheat broiler.
2. Arrange sausage on a small baking sheet. Broil sausage 5 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pan from oven (do not turn broiler off). Cut sausage into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in a single layer on baking sheet. Broil sausage slices 2 minutes or until browned.
3. Cook pasta according to package directions.
4. Place tomatoes in a food processor/blender; process until almost smooth. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add crushed pepper and minced garlic; sauté 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, sugar, and salt; cook 4 minutes or until slightly thick. Add sausage, half of the grated cheese, and half of the torn basil. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes. Add pasta to pan; toss well. Top with remaining cheese and basil.
The Verdict: A really tasty sauce that has a slow-cooked flavor. Also great for leftovers.
Not much to say about this recipe. It was simple and good. Amir enjoys eating long noodles, so this was received well with the preschool crowd. The sauce can be prepared up to three days ahead; you may or may not want to add the sausage if you make it before hand, depending on how much of the sausage flavor you want infused in the sauce.
A salad would be a great accompaniment to this dish. But in this house, green and leafy unless hidden on pizza doesn't not go over well with the 2-year-old.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
The tumeric gives the dish not just its beautiful golden color, but some of the warm and spicy taste. Add to that the cinnamon and bay leaf, this recipe has a bit of an Indian cuisine taste to it. This is another dish that you might have everything ready to go right in your cupboard. I chose basmati rice, but plain white rice will work just as well, though is not as fragrant or buttery.
Another addition to the dish is homemade chicken stock. A couple of weeks back I'd roasted a chicken and used the carcass to make stock. It was time consuming, but incredibly easy. While shopping in Whole Foods the other day, I noticed a large package of chicken bones and backs in the freezer section for around $3. I think I'll be getting some during my next shopping trip to cook up more. One part about homemade chicken stock is that you can make a lot, then freeze into portions.
I find this incredibly annoying because I think it's hard to read. On a secondary level, I wonder how many of you think I can't type. Or that my choice of paragraph layout is really, really strange. I assure you that while I'm no graphic artist or editor, I can place spaces between paragraphs or don't generally choose to put six spaces between them.
1. In a large saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of the unsalted butter over medium-high heat. Add one cup of frozen corn kernels and 1 teaspoon of thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is warmed through, about 1 minute.
2. Add 1 cup whole milk and 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup fine yellow cornmeal. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick and creamy, about 6 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of butter and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper; serve immediately.
The Verdict: Rich and tasty. It's also very elegant, so it looks and tastes like it's a lot more difficult to prepare than it is.
While cooking, I noticed that it went from creamy and wet to a thicker consistency rather quickly. This happened before the 6 minute cook time. Test the polenta if you think it's starting to look thick; if it's cooked through, take it off the heat. If not, add 1/4 cups of water at a time too keep it at a wet consistency. Otherwise, before it completely cools, it will congeal into a big ol' corn biscuit. Not so elegant.
At the moment, I cannot say enough about using freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese in recipes. The cost of a slice is a little daunting, but honestly, just a little bit goes a long way. The cheese is extremely dry, so when you break off and shave a piece that's hardly 2x2", it fluffs up to at least a quarter cup. The taste is also extremely sharp yet sweet with a hint of gaminess if you use sheep's milk cheese. (Which I'd recommend.)
Thursday, October 14, 2010
I've not posted for a few days, not because I haven't been cooking like a lunatic, but because life is busy. The bulk of the activity revolves around our toddler. There is always nothing specific to report, it's more that he has two modes: on and off. Mainly on. Like tonight, I returned home from a meeting to find Amir still awake. "I went pee-pee, Mama!" he tells me. A weary looking Daddy says, "Yes, but tell her where, son." I'll spare you the gory details.
The good news is that in my flurry of cooking, I revisited the sausage meatloaf I'd posted a while back. Perhaps you remember it, perhaps you don't. But the verdict was that the taste was wonderful but the consistency was much too wet. I followed some of your suggestions and now have a meatloaf that will be a part of the regular rotation. I'll do a separate post for the side dish, polenta with corn and thyme. That was pretty ummy-nummy, so be sure to check that recipe out. Without further ado, here's the new meatloaf recipe.
Sausage Meatloaf1 egg lightly beaten
1/3 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 slices whole grain bread, cubed
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
2 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp chopped, jarred garlic
1 lb hamburger
1 lb Italian chicken sausage (pork is fine, too, I'm sure)
1/2 medium onion, grated and squeezed
3 tbsp ketchup
2 tsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine eggs, broth and the Worcestershire sauce. Let stand for 15 minutes. With fork, mash bread cubes into small pieces, then stir in parmesan cheese, mustard and garlic. Add meat and raw sausage from the casing and onion. Mix well with hands but do not overmix. Form into a rectangular loaf in a 13 x 9-inch glass baking dish.
2. In a small bowl, mix ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar and the remaining Worcestershire sauce. Evenly pour sauce over the top of the meat.
3. Bake, uncovered, for 1 1/4 hours. Drain grease from pan using a spoon or small ladle, and let stand for 10 minutes.
The Verdict: Now that's meatloaf.
Cutting down on the wet ingredients did help a nice loaf to form. It was still a bit crumbly, but in a good way that showed that it was moist. I also omitted the green pepper from the original recipe. From what I'm reading, the fewer "chunks" in a meatloaf, the easier time it has to bind. Besides, there's a lot of flavors going on between the sausage and the baked-on sauce.
I was worried that I had another gloppy mess on my hands when I saw the amount of grease around the loaf. However, it only stands to reason that this would be a fattier meatloaf with the addition of sausage. And I also learned in my meatloaf research that your hamburger itself should have a higher fat content. The leaner the meat, the more likely to crumble. Just siphon off the grease immediately, then let the loaf set.
This is a definite two thumbs up from Amir, the peeing toddler. He ate a slice just about the same size as mine, then said in his upwardly inflecting way, "More?" He said it a second time after eating another half piece, but generally a request for thirds is met with mainly playing with his food. Request denied, but thanks for the sentiment, kid.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010
I read a lot of recipes for pumpkin cakes. I liked this, but not that. I didn't like the idea of this, but thought that was pretty nice. So finally, I decided to strike out on my own. I've taken a basic pumpkin spice cake recipe and married it with the cranberry upside-down cake idea: caramelized apples and walnuts as a topping.
Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Apples and Walnuts
2 medium apples, finely diced
3 tbsp chopped walnuts
1 tbsp butter, softened
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup applesauce
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
3 large egg whites
2 tsp vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bundt cake pan with one tablespoon of butter, more if necessary. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples and walnuts to the bottom of the pan, then top with sugar mixture. Set aside pan aside.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients of cake; side flour mixture aside. Combine pumpkin and applesauce in another bowl; set aside. Beat granulated sugar and butter in a large bowl at medium speed of a mixer until well-blended (about 5 minutes). Add egg whites and vanilla, beating well.
3. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with pumpkin mixture. Pour batter into bundt pan and bake for 50 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes; remove from pan.
The Verdict: A little on the spicy side, but moist, springy and definitely a fantastic fall dessert. It's also a good breakfast. The spice was most apparent to Noyan; Amir and I had no problems and are eating cake without thinking twice.The apples did stick in the pan, so I just scooped them out and placed them back on the cake. The apples are a nice addition, however, the cake would be just as good with a maple glaze or simply powdered sugar.
Friday, October 8, 2010
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Monday, October 4, 2010
Welcome to another Meatless Monday! Today's recipe comes from deep in the Shannon recipe archives. I did a couple year stint as a vegetarian and had bought a few cookbooks to supply me with meal ideas. Many of them were the supermarket checkout mini-magazines, so instead of stockpiling a bunch of those, I ripped out dishes I liked or wanted to try. This was always in the try pile.
I'm not really sure where the recipe comes from, however, after having cooked it, I would change a number of things about it. The first is the number of shells. The original recipe calls for 12 shells for six servings. Seemed fine to me...until I bought jumbo shells. They aren't quite as jumbo as I'd imagined. Cooked, they're probably 2 inches long and 1 inch wide. And if that's my dinner, please multiply by two. The recipe calls for one can of beans but I found that was quite skimpy. I'd definitely double it. I'd also add another vegetable to the mix, like a green pepper.
Mexican Pasta Shells16 uncooked jumbo pasta shells
2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1 small green pepper, chopped
2 cans (15-16 oz) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 package soft cream cheese
3/4 cup taco sauce
1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese
1/2 cup crushed corn chips
1/2 cup sour cream
4 medium green onions, sliced
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook and drain pasta shells as directed on package
2. Heat oil in 2-quart nonstick saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion and pepper in oil, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender. Stir in beans, chili powder, cream cheese and 1/2 cup taco sauce. heat over medium-low heat 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted.
3. Spray a glass pie dish with cooking spray. Fill cooked shells with bean mixture. Place shells, filled side up, in pan. Pour remaining 1/4 cup taco sauce over shells.
4. Cover and bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and corn chips. Bake uncovered about 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with sour cream and green onions. Serves 4.
The Verdict: The version we ate was good and had a lot of potential. That's why I suggest making those changes to it. We ate the pepper-less and skimpy bean version. This recipe would also make a great appetizer. (In which case two shells per person would be plenty.)
Amir wasn't into this recipe. But that's largely because he saw his daddy eating tortilla chips before dinner and wanted some. Four chips later, that's what he decided dinner should be. The Kinaymans don't roll like that; we don't subscribe to the "at least he's eating something" philosophy. He loves beans, though. So I'm thinking next time he might be more into it if I increase the beans so that you can really see them.
Sunday, October 3, 2010
1. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, Worcestershire sauce, garlic, pepper, and salt. Form mixture into 6-8 (4 inch) patties. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
2. Add patties to skillet, in batches if necessary, and cook for 7 to 8 minutes per side or until browned. Remove patties from pan; set aside. Reserve 2 tablespoons drippings in skillet
3. Add mushrooms to skillet, and sauté for 1 to 2 minutes or until just tender. Add flour and onion soup, and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Stir in consommé.
4. Return patties to skillet; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes or until patties are cooked through and sauce is thickened. Serve immediately.
The Verdict: I thought it was good, Noyan thought it was very good, and Amir thought it was great.
I would have given it a very good as well, but what I wasn't super bowled over by was the fact that the canned soups made it very salty. I just checked the Campbell's website and neither the French Onion nor the Beef Consommé come in a low-sodium version. (Please let me know if you come across another brand that sells either in a low-sodium option.) Otherwise, it was really good. Simmering the patties in the sauce took away both the hamburger taste and consistency and made it more like--well, steak.
Amir was the one who made Noyan and I both laugh. He ate his entire patty, including little crumbs of meat, then asked, "More?" As Noyan said, if he eats this much at 2, what's going to happen when he's a teenager? Luckily, this is a fairly inexpensive meal to prepare. Whereas last night we ate three patties, one went to work with Noyan for lunch, and the remaining four were frozen for another night's meal, in ten years Noyan and I will eat one and Amir will eat...the reamining six.