December 30, 2005

Black Bean Dip

Black Bean Dip
Ingredients:
28 oz canned black beans, drained
1 small onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon plain yogurt (optional*)
1 tablespoon lime juice*
1 teaspoon chile powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper



Directions:
Pour all ingredients into a food processor (or blender) and pulse until you achieve your desired consistency. Pretty smooth but with the odd whole bean is nice.

Excellent on: pita, tortilla chips, raw veggies or used in place of refried beans.


*Leave this out for a thicker dip or if you are vegan or just don't like yogurt! It adds a nice tang though.

**I used key limes I had leftover from making pie, but juice from a regular lime is fine



My thoughts:
I saw a jar of prepared black bean dip at Wegman's and I thought I could probably make a better version at home using fresher ingredients, i.e. fresh garlic instead of the garlic powder in the ingredients list, fresh onion instead of dehydrated. So I came up with this recipe. It came out well, and it's low fat. Fat free if you don't add the yogurt. I think it would be good with a little fresh corn stirred in after you blend it for some texture interest. Unfortunately it's the depths of Winter here so I'll have to make it again in Spring to find out.

December 28, 2005

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie


Ingredients:
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk (fat free is fine)
3 egg yolks
1/3 cup key lime juice*
2 1/2 teaspoons key lime zest
9 inch round graham cracker crust

Directions:
Preheat oven to 300. In a large mixing bowl, using your electric mixer, beat the egg yolks and zest until the eggs are creamy. Slowly add condensed milk and mix until well combined. Add key lime juice and mix to combine thoroughly. Pour into crust and bake 15 minutes or until the pie is "set" and no longer feels liquid to the touch. Cool on wire rack, refrigerate.



*Note: For an authentic pie, you need the juice of fresh key limes. Using a juicer is the most efficient way to extract the most amount of juice from tiny key limes limes. I was able to yield 1/3 cup of juice from only 10 (2 inch diameter) limes using my juicer. If you have to use bottled juice, make sure it is from actual key limes (the juice will be a pale yellow) and not just (Persian) lime juice with citric acid added to make it tart.



My thoughts:
Who knew key lime pie was so easy to make? It's one of my husband's favorites so when I saw fresh key limes in the store, I couldn't resist. The bag came with a recipe, but I upped the amount of zest and juice it called for to yield a more tart pie. It came out as well if not better than the pies I've had from places that specialize in key lime pies.

December 27, 2005

Roast Beef with Garlic (in the slow cooker)

Roast Beef with Garlic (in the slow cooker)
Ingredients:

3 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed
10 oz mushrooms, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
24 cloves garlic, chopped
2 beef bouillon cubes
1/2 cup hot water
12 ounces lager beer
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon of water
salt
black pepper

Directions:

In a large pan, heat 1 tbsp. of the oil and brown roast on both sides, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Remove to a plate and loosely cover. If needed, add the remaining oil to the pan. Saute the onions 2-3 minutes or until just softening.
Add the garlic and mushrooms, cook until onion and garlic are tender. In a small bowl or measuring cup combine the boullion cubes and the hot water. Stir. Add to pan and stir again. Add the beer, brown sugar, mustard, and vinegar. Stir to combine. Pour mixture into the bottom of the slow cooker. Place roast on top of the sauce. Cook on low for 7-8 hours. After 7-8 hours, add the dissolved corn starch and stir to combine. Sauce should begin to thicken, cook an additional 15-30 minutes as needed.

December 26, 2005

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls (Cinnamon Buns)




Ingredients:
DOUGH:

4 cups flour
1/2 oz yeast
1/2 cup hot water
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon salt

FILLING:
1/2 cup butter, creamed
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Directions:

In a large mixing bowl, dissolve 2 packages of yeast in 1/2 cup of very warm (not more than about 100F) water and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Let sit. In a small saucepan, warm butter and milk to about 100F. Using an electric mixer with a dough hook combine dissolved yeast and the butter mixture on low. Slowly add 1/2 cup of sugar, then the egg. Add salt and 2 cups of flour on low, mix until smooth. Slowly mix in the remaining 2 cups of flour. The mixture should become a sticky dough at this time. Scrape out the dough onto floured counter top. Knead dough until it doesn't stick to your hands, adding small amounts of flour (up to 1/2 cup) as needed.
Place in a greased bowl. Cover with damp cloth and let rise for about 45 minutes or until it doubles in size. Preheat oven to 350. Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured counter. Roll out in a 12 by 24 inch rectangle. The dough should be about an inch thick. Using your fingers or a spatula, spread 1/2 cup of the very soft, creamed butter over dough. In small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon for the filling. Sprinkle evenly over the buttered dough. Roll dough into a tight log. Cut into 1 inch thick slices. Place in 2 ungreased, 9 inch round cake pans, forming a circle with one roll in the middle. Allow to rise about 1/2 hour until they are about level to the top of the cake pan. Bake for about 15 minutes, then test for doneness. Pay careful attention to the creases where the rolls touch each other. Return to oven 5-10 additional minutes as needed. Remove to a wire rack or invert on a plate and ice.


Excellent with cream cheese icing.


My thoughts:
A homemade version of my favorite Amish market treat. I have been trying hard to develop a recipe that comes close and I think this one does. My sweet husband made them for me as a special holiday treat.

Cream Cheese Icing for Sweet Rolls

Cream Cheese Icing for Sweet Rolls
Ingredients:
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon salt


Directions:
In a medium sized bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Spread over warm sweet rolls.

Excellent on cinnamon rolls.



My thoughts:
I love the cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing found at the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia. So much so that on more than on occasion I have driven the almost 2 hours just to satisfy my craving. This icing is the closest to my beloved rolls that I have been able to develop. It doesn't get hard or dried out and has a nice, tart cream cheese flavor.

December 25, 2005

Peanut Butter Cup Cookies


Ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
18 oz miniature Reese's Peanut Butter cups, unwrapped (I used the dark chocolate variety but they can be difficult to find) OR homemade

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream together both sugars, the peanut butter, eggs and butter. Add the flour and baking soda and mix throughly. Shape in to one inch balls and drop into a ungreased mini-muffin pan, one to a section. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 minutes. Remove pans from oven and immediately press one miniature peanut butter cups into each warm cookie. The candy should be fairly level with the top of the cookie. Cool in the pan for 15 minutes then remove to a wire rack.

Yield: approximately 5 dozen cookies.

Note: cookies can be frozen for up to 6 months.


My thoughts:
These are some of my favorite cookies. I had made them with the traditional milk chocolate Reese's miniatures years ago and always thought that they would be even better with dark chocolate. When my mom spotted the dark chocolate variety she snatched them up and made me these cookies again. Yum!

December 19, 2005

How to Host a Cookie Swap

How to Host a Cookie Swap


I hosted my first cookie swap party this weekend and I think it went pretty well. Some tips I have come up with are:


  • Send out invitations early-the holiday time is busy for everyone.
  • Decide how many cookies each person will bring. 1 dozen for each person is traditional
  • Decide how many people you want to invite. I kept it to 5 couples so we only ended up with 5 dozen cookies. Since it's just us, we didn't think we could handle any more!
  • Have lots of snacks. I made: spinach rolls, spinach-artichoke dip, hummus, peppermint bark, peppermint marshmallows, hot chocolate and had a lot of pita, celery and carrots and tortilla chips. Some of the guests also brought snacks so we had more than enough.
  • Have tons of beverages on hand, we drank way more than we expected.
  • Have a table set up to put all of the arriving cookies on. Even with just 5 of us swapping, we filled a whole table with plates and tins.
  • Have everyone package their cookies on plates or in tins at home so they are ready to go.
  • Have everyone bring a copy of the recipe they used to go along with the cookies.
  • Try to be prepared. I made everything we served ahead of time. I even had cut the carrot and celery up and had it in water in the refrigerator. The day of the event, all I had to do was heat up the dip, roll up the spinach rolls (they baked at the same time/temperature) and set out the food.
  • Have fun!

Chocolate-Vanilla Pinwheel Cookies


Chocolate-Vanilla Pinwheel Cookies
Ingredients:

4 1/2 teaspoons butter , melted
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature

Directions:
WARNING: this needs to be done the day before you want to bake the cookies.
In a large bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Beat until fluffy. In a medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, combine thoroughly. Remove half the dough to medium bowl. Add cocoa and melted butter to remaining dough. Mix thoroughly. Divide the dough in half. Divide the vanilla dough in half as well. You should now have 4 sets of dough, two vanilla and two chocolate. Dough should be firm. If not, refrigerate ½- 1 hour until firm. Sandwiched between 2 pieces of wax paper, roll one portion vanilla dough into 8-inch square. Repeat procedure with one portion chocolate dough. If the dough is warm and soft, you may need to chill it again at this point. Remove top sheets of wax paper; invert vanilla dough onto chocolate dough. Remove the top sheet of wax paper. Roll carefully. Wrap in wax paper. Repeat procedure with remaining dough. Refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch slices; place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 6-7 minutes or until just set. Careful, the cookies do not brown on top and it is difficult to visually tell if they are done. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.


My thoughts:
I came up with this recipe for a cookie swap I am hosting tomorrow. They are pretty easy to make but the dough is really soft. My husband and I ended up having to refrigerate it in between each step and it was still tricky to roll the two doughs together without ripping. We also made a double batch so that slowed us down as well, we had twice as much dough to work with than the recipe I posted here. It wasn't a difficult cookie to make but we were left with a lot of "down time" waiting for the dough to cool down between each step. All in all, they turned out very well, not too difficult and very chocolatey. I am happy my first refrigerator cookie recipe turned out so well. I have always been interested in refrigerator cookies but I had never made some myself.

December 18, 2005

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark




Ingredients:
14 oz semisweet chocolate chips
12 candy canes

Directions:
In a medium bowl, microwave chocolate 2 1/2 minutes*. Meanwhile, using the back of a spoon or a measuring cup, break the candy canes still in their plastic wrappers. Remove wrappers and dump into a bowl. Use a sieve to sift out the "peppermint dust". Check on the chocolate. Some chips may retain their shape but the chocolate should be basically melted. Stir. Pour chocolate on to a foil-line cookie sheet. Press candy canes into the chocolate. Chill 1 hour. Remove from foil. Break into pieces.


*You could also use a double boiler to melt the chips.

Spring this recipe!
My thoughts:

Just as easy but so much tastier than that icky white chocolate.

Spinach Ricotta Phyllo Rolls

Spinach Ricotta Phyllo Rolls
Ingredients

12 oz spinach, drained
8 oz frozen phyllo dough, defrosted
4 tablespoons butter, melted
8 oz ricotta
1/2 cup roasted pinenuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine spinach, ricotta and pinenuts thoroughly. Unroll the phyllo onto a cookie sheet. Spread spinach mixture over phyllo, leaving a 2 inch border. Roll into a log and brush on melted butter to seal. Bake 30 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. Slice and serve.


My thoughts:

I made this as an appetizer for a cookie swap I am hosting. I made the spinach mixture the day before. The day of, I let it warm up a little then rolled it into the phyllo and baked it.

How to Roast Pinenuts


how to roast pinenuts

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Place pinenuts on a cookie sheet or cake pan. Roast for 5-8 minutes in oven. Pinenuts should be slightly browned and fragrant.

Hot Chocolate

Hot chocolate
Ingredients:
14 oz sweetened condensed fat free milk
1/2 cup baking cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
6 1/2 cups hot water

Directions:
In a large pot on the stove, stir together condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt. Turn on the heat to medium. Slowly add in water. Cook over gentle heat until warmed through but do not boil.

Good with Peppermint Marshmallows.

My thoughts:

This recipe makes a lot of hot chocolate, cheaply. It is even fat free. It can also be stored in the fridge for about 5 days and heated up when needed.

December 17, 2005

Peppermint Marshmallows



Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unflavored powdered gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
2 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon peppermint extract
Confectioners' sugar for dredging

Directions:

In a large bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Allow to seep for 10 minutes. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, corn syrup, and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a vigorous boil and boil for 1 minute. Pour boiling syrup into gelatin and mix at high speed for 1 minute. Add the salt and beat for 11 minutes. Add peppermint and beat for 1 minute. Oil your hands and a spatula and scrape into a 9 x 9 pan lined with oiled plastic wrap and spread evenly. After pouring marshmallow mixture into the pan, take another piece of oiled plastic wrap and press firmly on the top, oil side down, to smooth the marshmallow. Allow to rest 3 hours. Invert the pan into plate full of confectioners’ sugar and dredge the marshmallow through. Remove and cut into pieces with kitchen sheers or a knife. Dredge each piece of marshmallow in confectioners' sugar. Store in an air tight container.



My thoughts:
Who knew making marshmallow was so easy? It was really sticky though, I had to spray my hands more than once in order to get it out of the mixing bowl and spread out.

December 16, 2005

Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork with Garlic)


Pernil (Puerto Rican Roast Pork with Garlic)
Ingredients:

1 head garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons oregano (fresh or dried)
2 teaspoons whole peppercorns
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 lb boneless pork loin

Directions:

WARNING: This part needs to be done the day before you plan on serving the roast. In a food processor, blender or using a mortar and pestle, combine the garlic, oregano, peppercorns and olive oil to form a thick paste. If the mixture looks dry, add more oil, one tablespoon at a time. Place the pork loin in a glass roasting pan. Using the point of a sharp knife, stab the pork on all sides to a depth of about one inch. Rub the pork with the garlic paste. Cover and refrigerate over night.

Preheat oven to 450. Make sure the roast is fat side up. Bake 30 minutes then reduce temperature to 350. Periodically baste the meat with its own juices. Cook for another 45-60 minutes or until the internal temperature is 150. Let sit 10 minutes before serving.


My thoughts: When I saw a version of this recipe in my local paper, I had to try it. My husband and I were in San Juan on our honeymoon and I thought it would be fun have a Puerto Rico themed dinner. Traditionally, Pernil is made using a bone-in pork shoulder. Using the boneless pork loin shortens the cooking time and is easier to slice for serving. Even though prepping the meat the night before is kind of a pain (I hate waiting to eat anything!) the flavor is much better than it would be if you just rubbed it on before roasting.

December 12, 2005

Coconut-Lime Rice Pudding

Coconut-Lime Rice Pudding



Ingredients:

1/3 cup white basmati rice
14 oz can coconut milk (not cream of coconut)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lime zest*
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 lime, quartered (optional)


Directions:
In a small bowl soak rice in about 2/3 cup of cold water for 30 minutes. Drain rice. In a medium sized saucepan bring coconut milk, milk, rice, sugar, and salt to a boil, Reduce heat to low and simmer, for about 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. It should have cooked down to a thick, creamy texture. Remove from heat and stir in lime zest. Serve with lime wedges. Delicious warm or chilled.



*For plain coconut rice pudding omit lime zest

December 08, 2005

Coconut-Lime Macaroons

Coconut-Lime Macaroons


Ingredients:

3 egg whites
2 cups sweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
zest of 1 lime

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients thoroughly. Form into small balls and place 1/2 inch apart on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake 12 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned. Cool on wire racks.

Lime juice often loses some of its flavor during baking due to high heat. These macaroons, however, bake for such a small amount of time, it's not an issue.

December 04, 2005

Spicy Chicken Soup with Rice and Beans


Spicy Chicken Soup with Rice and Beans
Ingredients:

4 cups chicken broth
10 oz canned tomatoes with chiles
1/4 cup white rice
15 oz canned black beans
1 cup corn kernels
1 cup cooked, cubed chicken breast
2 tablespoons salsa
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon chile powder

Directions:
In a large pot, bring broth, spices, rice and tomatoes to boil. Reduce and cover until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and return to boil. Serve.

December 01, 2005

How to use up Leftover Turkey

Make:

  • Turkey Chili
  • Turkey Stock
  • Turkey Gumbo
  • Chopped Turkey Liver
  • Turkey Kasha Varniska
  • Turkey Salad
  • Turkey Enchiladas
  • There are more choices out there than just sandwiches. Although they're good too, especially with cranberry sauce!

    Bonus: Make this cake and use up any leftover cranberry sauce!

    November 29, 2005

    Chocolate-Macadamia Sour Cream Cookies

    Chocolate Macadamia Sour Cream Cookies
    Ingredients:

    2 eggs, at room temperature
    2 2/3 cups flour
    2 cups semisweet chocolate chip/macadamia nut mix*
    1 cup butter, at room temperature
    1 cup light brown sugar
    2/3 cup sour cream
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon baking soda

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix throughly. Add sour cream and mix throughly. Slowly add in flour mixture and mix until well combined. Gently fold in chips and nuts. On a greased cookie sheet, drop 1 teaspoon of dough 1 1/2 inches apart for each cookie. Bake 15-17 minutes or until golden brown and the middle is soft to the touch.



    *Note: Hershey makes one or you can make your own using your own ratio of chips to nuts.


    November 27, 2005

    Jam Dotted Shortbread Cookies

    Jam Dotted Shortbread Cookies


    Ingredients:

    6 oz butter, at room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    1 egg, at room temperature
    2 cups flour
    1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    good quality jam


    Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a cookie sheet (or two if small) with butter. Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg and beat until smooth. Add baking powder and flour, mix to form a thick dough. Roll into small 1 1/2 inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on greased cookie sheet. With your spoon or a fingertip, make a shallow dent in the top of each cookie. Fill with a tiny bit of jam. Bake 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Allow to cool on wire racks.

    November 26, 2005

    Chocolate Fudge Frosting

    Ingredients:
    1 1/3 cups confectioner's sugar
    1/3 cup cocoa
    4 tablespoons milk
    3 tablespoons butter
    1 teaspoon vanilla

    Directions:

    In a medium saucepan, melt butter. Add cocoa and stir constantly, until it begins to boil. Cool completely. Add confectioner's sugar alternately with milk to cocoa mixture, stirring with each new addition. Continue to stir until smooth. Stir in vanilla and combine throughly. Ices one 13x9 cake or about 15 cupcakes.

    November 25, 2005

    Turkey Chili

    Turkey Chili


    Ingredients:
    1 lb cooked turkey, diced
    16 oz canned kidney beans, drained
    12 oz beer
    10 oz Ro-tel tomatoes with chile
    6 oz tomato paste
    4 cloves of garlic, chopped
    3 small, dried chile peppers
    2 stalks of celery, chopped
    1/2 lb frozen okra, chopped
    1 onion, chopped
    1 small green bell pepper, chopped
    2 tablespoons cocoa
    1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon oregano
    2 tablespoons olive oil
    1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
    1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin


    Directions:

    Soak dried chile peppers in a half cup of hot water, set aside. In a large saucepan, saute onions, garlic and bell pepper in oil until soft. Stir in turkey and all spices including cocoa. Add beer, tomatoes, tomato paste and beans. Stir and bring to a boil. Meanwhile, puree the dried chile peppers in water and add to pot. Cook 15-20 minutes or until chili has thickened and is bubbling.

    November 24, 2005

    Cinnamon Swirl Bread

    Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread


    Ingredients:

    swirl:
    1 1/3 cups sugar
    2 tablespoons PLUS 2 teaspoons cinnamon

    batter:
    8 cups flour
    4 cups sugar
    4 cups milk
    1 1/3 cup oil
    ¼ cup baking powder
    4 eggs, beaten
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    2 teaspoons salt


    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325. Grease 4 loaf pans. In a small bowl, mix together swirl ingredients. Set aside. In a very large bowl, combine baking powder, flour, sugar and salt. In a medium sized bowl, combine eggs, milk, vanilla and oil. Add to flour mixture. Stir until moist and virtually lump-free. Pour into pan, filling about 1/3 of the way. Sprinkle with swirl mixture. Add more batter, top with more swirl mixture. Using the end of a knife, gently swirl the top of the loaf. Repeat for remaining 3 pans. Bake 45- 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan 10-15 minutes then remove to wire racks. Cool completely before slicing.

    November 23, 2005

    Turkey Kasha Varniska

    Turkey Kasha Varniska

    Ingredients:

    1 cup kasha (buckwheat)
    1 large onion, chopped
    1 egg
    2 cups cooked turkey, chopped
    2 cups turkey stock
    2 tablespoons oil OR turkey fat
    1/2 lb bow tie noodles (varniska), cooked and drained


    Directions:
    In a large saucepan, saute onions in oil until blackened. Meanwhile, mix the egg and the kasha. Add to pan and saute with onions until the kernels begin to seperate, 5-10 minutes. Add broth and turkey then cover. Simmer over low heat until kasha is tender. Salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. Add noodles and serve.

    November 22, 2005

    Spinach Artichoke Dip

    Spinach Artichoke Dip



    Ingredients:

    12 oz canned articokes, drained and chopped
    10 oz frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
    4 oz cream cheese (from a block)
    3/4 cup sour cream
    1 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
    salt
    pepper

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 400. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients throughly. Scrape into a small (about 12 oz) casserole dish. Bake for 15-17 minutes or until slightly browned and just starting bubble around the edges.

    November 21, 2005

    Cranberry Sauce



    cranberry sauce
    Ingredients:

    1 lb fresh cranberries
    1 cup orange juice
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks
    splash of rum, optional

    Directions:

    In a saucepan, bring sugar, cinnamon stick and orange juice to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add cranberries. Cook 10 minutes, mash about 1/2 of the cranberries with a potato masher (or the back of a spoon) and cook 5 more minutes. Add rum and serve.

    November 20, 2005

    Chopped (Turkey) Liver


    Chopped Turkey Liver
    Ingredients:

    1 turkey liver (it's in the giblets bag)
    1 small onion, sliced
    1 hard boiled egg
    1 tablespoon oil or turkey fat

    Directions:
    In a small pan, heat the fat. Add the onion and the liver and saute until the onions are brown and the liver is no longer pink. Remove to a cutting board. Add the egg and chop until a coarse paste forms.* Serve on crackers.



    * Note: This recipe can easily be doubled or tripled to make more chopped liver with other kinds of liver. We just thought it would be fun to use the liver they give you in the giblets bag.

    November 19, 2005

    The Quick Roast Method of Turkey Making





    Ingredients:

    1 turkey (we used a 18 lb turkey that we brined)

    Directions:

    Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Place turkey in a large roasting pan. Place in oven and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Remove the turkey from the oven and cover the breast with foil. Return to oven and cook another 2 hours or until the thickest part of the breast is 160 degrees.

    Spring this recipe!


    Good with onion and celery bread stuffing.

    November 18, 2005

    How to Brine a Turkey

    How to brine a turkey
    Ingredients:

    1 gallon of vegetable stock OR 1 gallon water plus 1 vegetable bullion cube
    1 quart orange juice
    1 quart cold water
    1 cup salt
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1/4 pickling spices
    1 teaspoon whole peppercorns

    1 turkey (we used an 18 lb turkey)

    Directions:


    WARNING: This part should be done the night before you want to roast the turkey
    In very large pot, combine stock, brown sugar, spices and salt. Bring to a boil. Cool completely, refrigerate overnight.
    THEN: Six hours before you want to cook the turkey...
    Mix the stock mixture, orange juice and cold water. Place turkey in a nonreactive pot* large enough to hold the turkey and liquid. Pour brine over turkey. Refrigerate the turkey for 6 hours. Roast as usual or use our super quick method.




    *Note: if you don't have a large nonreactive pot (or aren't sure), you could use a large, thick trash bag to line any pot.

    November 17, 2005

    Falafel


    Falafel
    Ingredients:

    2 cups canned chickpeas, drained
    1 tablespoon baking powder
    1 medium onion, quartered
    4 cloves garlic, smashed
    1/4 cup self rising flour
    1/4 cup fresh parsley
    1 teaspoon cumin
    1 teaspoon coriander
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    freshly ground pepper

    oil for frying


    Directions:
    Place all ingredients EXCEPT the oil and flour into the food processor or blender. Pulse on high until a course paste forms. Scoop out into a large bowl, mix in the flour. Mixture should be dry yet but not crumbly. Refrigerate for 1 hour. In a large saucepan, heat about 1/4 inch of oil. Form into a ball (an ice cream scoops works well for this) and fry in the oil, turning to create a golden brown color on all sides, about 3- 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve warm.


    Serving suggestion: serve in a warm pita with hummus, tomatoes, spinach and cucumber.

    November 16, 2005

    Classic Hummus


    Ingredients:

    16 oz canned chickpeas
    2 cloves garlic
    juice of 1 lemon
    2 tablespoons tahini
    1 tablespoon garlic powder
    2-3 tablespoons olive oil
    salt to taste


    Directions:
    In a large saucepan, heat the chickpeas (in their liquid) until warm. Drain chickpeas, reserving liquid. Place chickpeas, tahini. garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and garlic powder into a blender or food processor. Blend on high until smooth, adding some of the reserved liquid to achieve a smooth texture. Sample and add more garlic, lemon or salt according to taste. Note: the flavor of the hummus will mellow when refrigerated.




    Serving suggestion: serve cold on a plate sprinkled with paprika and a drizzle of olive oil. Great with warmed pita and fresh vegetables or served with falafel.

    November 14, 2005

    Italian Meatloaf



    Italian Meatloaf
    Ingredients:

    1 1/4 lb ground beef
    3/4 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
    2 eggs
    1 small onion, finely chopped
    3/4 cup bread crumbs
    1/2 cup Parmesan, grated
    1/4 cup olive oil
    1/4 cup parsley, chopped
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, ground fresh
    freshly ground pepper

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together, using a folding motion until throughly mixed. Do not "over work" the meat. Form into a loaf and insert in loaf pan. Bake 45 minutes or until cooked through.

    November 12, 2005

    Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Butter

    Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan and Butter

    Ingredients:

    1/2 lb brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
    2 teaspoons butter
    4 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

    Directions:

    In a shallow sauce pan, add about 1 inch of water and bring to boil. Add brussels sprouts and cover. Allow to steam for 5-10 minutes or until bright green and cooked through. Drain. Top with butter and sprinkle with Parmesan. Toss to coat and serve immediately.

    November 11, 2005

    Brussels Sprouts with Fresh Garlic




    Ingredients:

    1/2 lb brussels sprouts, cut in half lengthwise
    5 cloves garlic, smashed
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 tablespoon olive oil

    Directions:

    In a saucepan with a lid, heat oil and butter. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, 1-3 minutes. Discard garlic. Place brussels sprouts cut side down in the pan. Stir, then cover and let steam until cooked through, 5-10 minutes, depending on size. Stir occasionally. If they look dry or begin to stick, add a couple teaspoons of water and continue to cover. The brussels sprouts should be hot, bright green and almost carmelized on the cut side. Remove from heat and serve.

    Spring this recipe!

    October 31, 2005

    Minestrone Soup


    Ingredients:

    64 oz vegetable broth
    24 oz crushed tomatoes
    14 oz kidney beans, drained
    1 cup onions, chopped
    1 medium eggplant, chopped
    2 small zucchini, chopped
    4 carrots, cut into coins
    4 stalks of celery, chopped
    4 cloves garlic, chopped
    1/2 cup fresh basil
    1/2 cup fresh spinach
    1/2 cup frozen peas
    1/2 cup frozen green beans
    1/2 lb ditalini pasta (or other small pasta)

    Directions:

    In a large pot with a cover, bring vegetable broth, onions, garlic, celery and carrots to boil. Add tomatoes, zucchini, peas, green beans, kidney beans and eggplant and cook through. Cover and return to boil. Add pasta and cook 10 minutes. Add spinach and basil. Stir through and serve.

    October 30, 2005

    Spinach Cornbread




    Ingredients:

    1 cup cornmeal
    1 cup flour
    1 teaspoon salt
    4 teaspoons baking powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
    3 eggs
    10 oz frozen leaf spinach (defrosted and drained)
    12 ounces cottage cheese
    5 tablespoons butter, melted

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl mix together the corn meal, flour, salt, baking powder and sugar together. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, spinach, cottage cheese and melted butter. Stir all until just combined. Pour batter into a greased 8 inch baking dish. Bake 30 minutes or until golden brown.

    Spring this recipe!

    October 28, 2005

    Singapore Noodles

    Singapore Noodles
    Ingredients:

    1/2 pound thin rice noodles, prepared according to package directions
    1/2 pound baby shrimps, without shells, deveined, rinsed and drained
    1 skinless chicken breast, 1/4-inch strips
    1/4 cup chinese cooking wine
    2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    1/2 teaspoon white pepper
    1 tablespoon minced ginger
    1/2 cup green onions, chopped
    1/2 cup frozen peas
    1 tablespoon minced garlic
    1/2 pound bean sprouts
    1 onion, chopped
    2 eggs, lightly scrambled
    2 tablespoons Madras curry powder


    Directions:

    In a plastic bag, marinate shrimp and chicken in soy sauce, wine, cornstarch and white pepper for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a small amount of oil in wok. Stir fry ginger, green onions and garlic. Add marinated shrimp and chicken to oil and stir fry until cooked through, about one minute. Remove shrimp and chicken and set aside. Add, bean sprouts, peas and onion to the wok and stir fry one munute. Salt and pepper, then set aside. Wipe out the wok (carefully) and heat fresh oil. Add the eggs and tilt and left the pan to spread them thinly around the pan. While the egg is still liquid, add drained noodles. Stir and break up and distribute the egg. Keep stiring. Add curry powder. When the noodles are coated and hot, return shrimp, chicken and vegetables to the wok and continue to stir until well combined. Serveimmediatly.

    October 27, 2005

    Madras Curry Powder

    Ingredients:

    2 1/2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
    1 tablespoon cumin seeds
    1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
    2 teaspoons garlic powder
    1 teaspoon tumeric
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1 teaspoon cayenne powder
    1/2 teaspoon allspice


    Directions:

    Combine all ingredients and grind into a smooth powder using a food processor, coffee grinder (that is for spice use only!), mortar and pestle or like we did, in a molcajete. Save in a air tight container, it makes about 3 oz.

    October 26, 2005

    Spinach Ricotta Pie

    spinach ricotta pie


    Ingredients:

    1 lb frozen leaf spinach, chopped (defrosted and squeezed dry)
    15 oz ricotta cheese
    1/8 cup Parmesan
    4 oz feta, crumbled
    5 eggs
    1 small onion, chopped
    3 cloves garlic, chopped
    3 tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium tomato, sliced
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    2 tablespoons Italian bread crumbs

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 325. In large pan, saute onion and garlic over low heat in olive oil until soft and fragrant. Add spinach, saute 2-3 minutes or until it looks dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat. In bowl, combine Parmesan, ricotta and nutmeg. Add the spinach mixture and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning. Add eggs, combine thoroughly. Using olive oil, grease a 12 cup baking dish. Dust with bread crumbs, shake to remove excess. Pour in spinach mixture. Arrange tomato slices on the surface, sprinkle with feta. Bake 1 hour or until hot through and golden brown.

    October 16, 2005

    Pulled Pork (in the slow cooker)

    Pulled Pork


    Ingredients:
    3 lb boneless pork shoulder roast (trim off excess fat)
    1 cup chili sauce (like Heinz)
    1/4 cup cider vinegar
    1/4 cup Barbados mustard style hot pepper sauce
    1 teaspoon chili powder
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon liquid smoke
    2 tablespoon dark brown sugar
    2 teaspoons black pepper
    2 teaspoons salt
    2 tablespoons barbecue dry rub (like Stubb's)
    2 onions, finely chopped
    6-10 cloves garlic, finely chopped
    2 tablespoon vegetable oil

    Directions:

    Rub barbecue spice rub on the pork. Marinate in the fridge for at least 2 hours, over night if possible. In a large skillet add the vegetable oil and brown the roast well on all sides. Place roast in slow cooker. In the same skillet and oil, saute onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, cook 1-2 minutes until aromatic. Add all remaining ingredients to the skillet and bring to a boil. Pour over meat. Cook on low in the slow cooker 10-12 hours.* When done, meat should shred easily with a fork. Remove roast from slow cooker. Shred with a fork. Return to slow cooker, stirring to coat with sauce. Serve on rolls.

    Spring this recipe!


    *We put this up in the slow cooker right around the time we went to bed (1 AM) and it was done for lunch the next day.

    October 15, 2005

    Spinach Potato Salad

    Spinach Potato Salad

    Ingredients:
    3 lbs yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
    8 oz sour cream
    2 handfuls fresh baby spinach
    3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (Maille is best)
    salt
    pepper

    Directions:

    In a large pot bring 1 quart of salted water to boil. Add potatoes, continue to boil until potatoes are tender. Drain. Return to pot or dump the potatoes into a large bowl. Immediately add spinach and fold in.* Add mustard and sour cream and mix thoroughly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Excellent warm or chilled.



    *If you prefer chilled potato salad, chill the potatoes in the fridge at this step, 1/2- 1 hour, then proceed as directed.

    October 14, 2005

    Dark Chocolate S'mores


    Dark Chocolate S'mores


    Ingredients:
    1 dark chocolate candy bar or 5 minatures
    3-4 marshmallows
    2 graham crackers

    Directions:
    On a cookie sheet, place the candy bar on top of one graham cracker. Top with marshmallows and second graham cracker. Bake in 350 degree over for about 5 minutes or until marshmallows are melted and slightly browned. Transfer to a plate (careful! molten marshmallows will burn you) and eat carefully.

    October 11, 2005

    Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

    Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes


    Ingredients:

    2 cups sugar
    1 3/4 cups flour
    1 cup boiling water
    3/4 cup cocoa
    3/4 cup milk
    1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons butter (at room temperature)
    1/4 cup sour cream
    3 eggs (at room temperature)
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease cupcake pans*. Mix cocoa with boiling water in small bowl, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each one. Stir in vanilla. Gradually add cocoa, mixing throughly. In another bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients. In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the milk and sour cream. Add the flour mixture and the milk/sour cream mixture alternating between the two, throughly mixing between each addition. Ladle into cupcake tins. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center cupcake comes out clean. Cool then ice.


    Great with Bailey's Irish Cream Icing


    *Would also make a layer cake if you used 3 9inch round pans

    Bailey's Irish Cream Icing

    Bailey's Irish Cream Icing



    Ingredients:

    1 lb confectioner's sugar
    1/4 cup Bailey's Irish Cream
    3 tablespoons milk
    1/4 teaspoon salt

    Directions:

    In a large bowl, combine all ingredients together until smooth and throughly mixed. Spread on favorite cupcakes.

    Excellent on Chocolate Sour Cream Cupcakes

    October 04, 2005

    Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips

    Chocolate Cookies with Peanut Butter Chips



    Ingredients:

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 cups sugar
    1 1/4 cups butter, at room temperature
    2 eggs, at room temperature
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    3/4 cup cocoa (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
    10 oz peanut butter chips (I used Reese's)
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt



    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 350°. In a medium sized bowl combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar and mix until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla mix to throughly combine. Slowly add flour mixture until totally combined. Carefully stir in peanut butter chips. Drop by the tablespoon onto an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about 1/2 inch spaces between each cookie. Bake 8-9 minutes. Do not over bake! Cool slightly then serve.

    Yields: between 3- 4 dozen cookies, depending on cookie size.

    Too many cookies? Try this cookie dough storage tip.

    October 03, 2005

    Chicken Soup with Kale and Rice

    Chicken Soup with Kale and Rice



    Ingredients:
    1 3-4 lb whole chicken
    4 celery stalks and greens, chopped
    4 carrots, chopped
    1 bunch fresh parsley
    1 bunch sage
    2 cups onions, quartered
    2 cloves garlic
    1 bunch kale, chopped
    1 gallon chicken broth
    salt
    freshly ground pepper

    rice (Uncle Ben's Converted works best)
    water or broth for rice

    Directions:

    Cut chicken in quarters. In a stock pot put one cup onion, parsley, sage, garlic, and celery greens. Cover with the chicken pieces. Cover with broth. Chicken should be covered, if not, add more broth or water to make up the difference. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam and fat that floats to the top. Cook until chicken is cooked through, tender and meat begins to fall off the bone, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove chicken to a large bowl and debone. Cut meat into bite sized pieces. Meanwhile, in a smaller pot prepare 4 cups (cooked) rice according to package directions. Using a sieve, remove all solids from the broth, pressing them dry. Discard. Place the rest of the onion, the celery, carrots and the kale into the broth. Return to heat and cook until vegetables are tender, about 40 minutes. Add chicken and cook through. To serve: ladle over rice to serve.

    September 30, 2005

    Unmashed Potatoes with Bacon and Onions

    Unmashed Potatoes with Bacon and Onions

    Ingredients:

    2-3 lbs russet potatoes, cut into 1/4 slices

    1 cup onions, chopped

    2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

    Directions:

    In a large pot bring salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook about 5-8 minutes or until just soft. Drain and cool. Meanwhile, fry bacon in a large pan. Add onions and saute 3-5 minutes or until translucent. Add potatoes and freshly ground pepper and continue to cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until well combined and potatoes are hot. Salt and pepper to taste.

    September 29, 2005

    Chicken and Ricotta Stuffed Shells

    Ingredients:

    2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1/4 cup PLUS 4 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
    1/4 balsamic vinegar
    1 tablespoon dried oregano
    salt
    pepper
    32 oz diced tomatoes
    12 oz tomato sauce
    2 handfuls of fresh spinach
    1 onion, diced finely
    4 cloves garlic, diced
    1 tablespoon butter
    1 cup ricotta cheese
    1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons shredded mozzarella (divided)
    1/2 cup PLUS 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan (divided)
    1 egg
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    jumbo pasta shells, cooked and cooled

    Directions:

    Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper and oregano. Rub in spices. In a ziploc bag add 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar and chicken breasts. Set aside. In a large pan, use remaining olive oil and butter to saute onions and garlic just until the garlic is fragrant, about 5-10 minutes. Add both cans of tomatoes, simmer for until sauce thickens, about 20-25 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Meanwhile, grill chicken in a grill pan or saute until cooked though. Finely dice chicken and set aside to cool. While chicken is cooling, place spinach in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 1 minute until wilted. Remove excess moisture by squeezing it between paper towels. In a large bowl, combine the ricotta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, nutmeg, spinach, chicken and egg. Mix thoroughly. In a greased lasagna pan, spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom. Fill shells with 1 tablespoon of the cheese/chicken mixture. Place filled shells in a single layer on the sauce. Shells can be placed very close together. Cover with remaining sauce and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Cover in foil and bake in a preheated 350 oven for 1/2 hour, then remove cover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until the cheese melts and the dish looks bubbly and hot.

    September 28, 2005

    Cookie Dough Tip

    Since my husband and I are the only members of our household, cookie recipes that yield dozens of cookies are a little impractical. Unfortunately, they are often hard to cut down. I have come up with this solution. We both love freshly baked cookies and baked cookies (even in Tupperware) have a fairly short shelf life. Instead of baking all of the cookies in a recipe at once we just make as many cookies as we want at one time then store the remaining dough in the refrigerator until the cookie mood strikes again. Depending on the type of cookie, the dough can keep for weeks. You can put them right in the oven cold from the refrigerator, adjusting the cooking time to a minute or so longer than the original recipe called for.

    September 21, 2005

    Roasted Chicken Masala




    Ingredients:

    1 4 to 5 lb whole chicken
    3 cinnamon sticks
    4-5 cloves of garlic
    1 onion, cubed
    8 tablespoons butter
    1 teaspoon turmeric
    1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon rice vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
    1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    1/4 teaspoon garam marsala (from your Indian grocery)
    freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Directions:

    Preheat oven to 375. In a food processor, blend together all ingredients EXCEPT the chicken and cinnamon sticks. Mixture should form a thick paste. Rinse chicken under cool water and pat dry. Place on roasting rack in pan. Rub paste in and under the chicken skin and inside the cavity. Place one cinnamon stick in the cavity, the other two under the skin. Bake for 1 hour then (carefully!) flip the chicken over on the rack. Return to the oven for approximately 1 additional hour or until juices run clear and leg moves freely when wiggled.

    September 20, 2005

    Mustard Seed Potatoes with Carrots and Peas

    Ingredients:

    4 potatoes, boilled then diced
    1 onion, diced
    1 shallot, diced
    1 cup carrots, diced
    1 cup frozen peas
    2 tablespoons oil
    1 tablespoon mustard seeds
    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon garam masala
    pinch sugar

    Directions:

    In a large shallow pan, roast pepper flakes and mustard seeds in oil until mustard seeds begin to pop. Add onions and shallots and saute until translucent. Add peas and carrots. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes or until soft. Add salt, sugar and potatoes, cover and saute 5 more minutes.

    September 18, 2005

    Oatmeal Bread

    Ingredients:

    1 cup rolled oats
    1 cup boiling water
    2 packages active dry yeast
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 cup warm water
    1 cup warm milk
    1 tablespoon salt
    1/4 cup dark brown sugar
    4 to 5 cups flour


    Directions:

    In a medium pot cook the oats in the boiling water until thickened, about 3 minutes. Pour into a large mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly. Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup combine yeast, sugar and warm water until dissolved and allow to proof. Add the milk, salt, brown sugar and the yeast mixture to the oatmeal. Stir well. Add four cups of flour, one at a time, stirring between each new addition. Turn out on a floured board or table. Knead for about 10 minutes or until it becomes a smooth, elastic dough, adding more flour if necessary. Shape into a ball and place into a buttered dish or bowl. Cover and let rise until it has doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch dough down. Knead for 2-3 minutes. Shape into 2 loaves and place into buttered loaf pans. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk and about even with the top of the pans. Preheat oven to 375. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it makes a hollow sound when tapped. Remove to a rack to cool.