October 28, 2013

Cranberry Ketchup

1 1/2 lb fresh (whole) cranberries
3 cloves garlic, quartered
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
2/3 cup fresh minneola (orange) juice
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon ground dried orange peel
1 teaspoon ground roasted ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon Saigon cinnamon


Prep your jars/lids. Place all ingredients in a heavy-bottomed nonreactive pot. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until most (if not all) the cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender or ladle in a regular blender to pulse until smooth. Return to a rolling boil and cook until thickened to ketchup consistency if necessary. Ladle into pint jars leaving 1/4 inch headroom. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Note: if you don't want to can this (the total yield is about 3 cups of ketchup) you can refrigerate it in an air-tight container up to one month.

Yield: about 3 8-oz jars (I used wide-mouth half pints)

Note: A great source for canning information is the Blue Book guide to preserving. I highly recommend it for learning how to can. Here are some of my other favorite canning books and supplies.

My thoughts:
All year I write down recipe ideas as they occur to me even if it isn't something I can make right then. Good percentage of these are Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving leftover related since I like to have an early faux Thanksgiving to test out the recipes I share with you all November. This time I was thinking of sandwich ideas and thought it would be great if there was a non-cranberry sauce type spread to use. Now I don't like tomato ketchup (it is on the list of foods I do not eat, see also: cantaloupe, pumpkin pie) but I like other kinds of ketchup. The consistency and use is the same but the flavor is far superior and much less sweet. Try this one on a turkey burger or anywhere else you'd use regular ketchup.

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October 25, 2013

Elote-Style Zucchini

2 small zucchini, cut into quarters length-wise
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Mexican crema
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
1/2 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Place the zucchini wedges, skin-side down, on a baking sheet. Broil for 5 minutes or until slightly charred. Allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, cream, cotija, chile powder and garlic. Spread on all sides of the zucchini. Serve immediately.

Note: Can't find Mexican crema? Try sour cream thinned out with 2 tablespoons of milk.

My thoughts:
Elote is Mexican-style corn on the cob; corn slathered in mayo, cheese and spices. Sounds a little weird but it really good. Unfortunately, it is October and good corn is a distant memory. Zucchini however, is still readily available and pretty tasty so I subbed that in. It actually worked really well!My buddies at Old El Paso asked me to come up with a recipe to complement their new frozen beef burrito entree. To be honest, I'm not always the biggest frozen burrito fan (they always seem to have a frozen spot or dry out) but I really enjoyed these! They cooked evenly and quickly and were packed with meat and vegetables that were actually tasty and flavorful. The burritos only took about five minutes in my microwave so I wanted to make a side dish that was just as quick. Enter my zucchini-elote hybrid. I liked having a little extra vegetables with my burrito and the flavors did complement each other but didn't compete. It really did only take about 7 minutes to make too; perfectly timed for burrito eating.

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October 23, 2013

St Paul Chopped Salad


for the dressing:
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon anchovy paste
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

for the salad:
2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
1 large tomato, chopped
4 slices thick-cut bacon, cooked and chopped
4 oz crumbled Gorgonzola
1 bunch green onion, chopped
12 oz  chopped romaine lettuce, cabbage, radish and carrot mix
5 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and well-drained

In a salad dressing shaker or lidded jar, shake together the dressing ingredients until well combined. Toss together all of the salad ingredients. Set aside. If possible, allow to sit 30-60 minutes prior to serving.

Place all of the salad ingredients in a large bowl, toss to combine. Drizzle with dressing and toss again. Serve immediately.

My thoughts:
I admit it, I don't know if the St Paul Chopped Salad is a "thing" the way the Cobb or the Caesar are; I couldn't find much information about it online at all. I had one last year on a trip to Minnesota when the only food options within walking distance were in the Mall of America. I ate at the Twin City Grill (twice!) which was actually pretty good and had what they called the "St Paul Chopped Salad". What caught my attention was that it combined, chicken, blue cheese, lettuce, bacon and pasta. Pasta! It was a somewhat odd addition but it was good. I mentally filed it away as something to make at home one day.

It took longer than I thought but finally, I made it for dinner. I picked up some very late tomatoes from the farm store, used rotisserie chicken, had gorgonzola leftover from job and had a bag of Dole chopped salad mix* on hand so it was a quick meal to pull together. A good thing since I had a busy day canning and little energy for dinner-making. Luckily, it came together and was as good as I remembered.

*If you don't have this, chop up 1 large romaine head, 1/4 of a green cabbage, 1/4 of a red cabbage, 4 radishes and 1 large carrot.

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October 21, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pepita Cookies

1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup salted, shelled, roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)

Preheat oven to 350. Line 3 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a very thick dough forms. Fold in the chips and pepitas. Form cookies by dropping 1 teaspoon of dough on the sheet two inches apart. Flatten slightly then bake for 12 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.

Yield: about 2 dozen

My thoughts:
I had cookies on my mind when I was at the grocery store today. I was going to make them with ingredients I already had at home when Matt spied a tub of roasted, salted pepitas and suggested putting them in a cookie. Clever idea and seasonal to boot (I spend most of early fall pretending it is still summer so the fact that Halloween is only 10 days away astounds me). I hadn't baked much with pepitas before (just the odd muffin) but they added a nice, chewy texture to the cookie. It was a fun and slightly unexpected alternative to nuts, which to be honest, I am not always fond of in a cookie.

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October 18, 2013

Caramelized Apple Upside-Down Pancake

3 tablespoons butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch ground cardamom
pinch salt
1 large apple, cored and sliced into thin rings (I used Stayman)
1/4 cup light brown sugar

Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet in the middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350. Add the butter to the skillet in the oven and let it melt. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, flour, salt and spices. Remove the skillet from the oven and quickly sprinkle with sugar and arrange the apple slices in a single layer. Pour the batter over the apple and return to the oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until lightly browned. Invert on to a platter. Slice and serve!

My thoughts:
We went to the apple butter festival this year and as always it was a great event (if a bit damp!). Open air apple butter making over wood fires, hog calling and lots of fresh West Viriginan apples to be had. We came home with pounds of apples and bottles of my favorite hickory syrup and I was racking my brain for way to use them both in one yummy dish. I came up with this, sort of a cross between a Dutch baby and a upside-down cake. I cored my apple (I only have a star shaped corer; you might notice the shape in the middle of the apple) and placed thin slices pineapple upside-down cake-style on my sugar-lined cast iron skillet then spread the batter on top. It puffed up became a fluffy pancake. Once sliced, I drizzled a bit of hickory syrup on it but it wasn't strictly necessary. The apples cooked up soft and caramelized and the pancake was perfectly spiced. A lovely choice for brunch, breakfast or as we had it, breakfast-for-dinner.

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October 16, 2013

Hearty Fall Greens, Hominy & Sausage Stew


group #1
1 large onion
3 medium turnips, peeled and chopped
1 quart Lima beans, shelled (about 2 cups of peeled lima beans)
2 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 carrots, cut into coins
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 quarts chicken stock

group #2
6 cups chopped turnip greens
12 oz spicy chicken bratwurst*, sliced into coins and browned
20 oz canned hominy, rinsed**

Place all of the ingredients in group #1 in a 6-quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3. Add the ingredients from group #2. Stir. Cover and cook on low 2-3 more hours.

*I used Spicy Espresso Bratwurst by Dogfish Head. It has chicken, espresso powder, minced habanero, cumin and Dogfish Head's Chicory Stout.
**I used Manning's hominy because, well, I'm from Baltimore. I am sure there are other brands out there, though.

Note: I added sausage to the soup because I like a bit of smoky meat with my turnip greens but if you want to make it vegetarian leave it out and use vegetable stock instead of chicken. Leave out the cheese too and make it vegan.

My thoughts:
Sometimes after I make a recipe and I am typing it up I notice that it is full of ingredients that I know a lot of people are leery of. Take this recipe for example. We stopped off at a farm stand on our way back from visiting the Lock Museum in Havre de Grace (it was a lot of fun, I recommend it) and since this is October, in Maryland, it was mostly root vegetables, apples, peppers, lima beans and the last of the tomatoes and okra. So I picked up some lima beans (still in the pod) and then saw the largest, prettiest turnips I had ever seen, still attached to their greens. Rarely have I seen turnips still attached to their greens so I bought it and then of course, was stuck making something with it. I decided to make a soup using both the turnips and their tops, the lima beans and a few other ingredients I had around the house. Lima beans and turnips being two the most often recipients of nose wrinkling and "I don't eat that!" when I've mentioned them in the past. It is a shame because lima beans (especially fresh, I can take or leave frozen) are creamy and tasty and hold their shape even when slow cooking. Turnips have a bright, peppery flavor and are perfect roasted, mashed, stewed or made into a soup. Turnip greens can be a bit bitter but not more so than say rapini. If they are extra bitter for some reason, blanching them before adding them to the soup (or stew!) often helps. This stew (soup?) is the perfect combination of leafy greens, hearty root vegetables and creamy, slightly sweet hominy. Bonus point: sprinkle some parmesan on top just before serving.

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October 15, 2013

Pumpkin Mole Grits

2 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup stone-ground grits
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 teaspoon Ancho chile powder
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
freshly ground black pepper


In a medium pot, bring the stock to a boil. Add the grits and stir continually for about 5 minutes or until the broth is completely absorbed. Remove from the heat and immediately whisk in the pumpkin and spices.

Yield: about 2 servings

My thoughts:
It is pumpkin time again! I was trying to think of something creative and pumpkin-y to make when Old El Paso contacted me about creating a side dish to go with their new frozen chicken quesadillas. Of course, my mind went to Mexican or Tex-Mex. I love pumpkin mole and I love grits so why not combine the two? The result was quick, easy and very creamy thanks to the pumpkin. The spices added just the right amount of mole flavor without having to go through the hassle of actually making mole! I thought it was the perfect complement to the new Old El Paso Chicken Quesadillas, the quesadillas feature salsa verde and sauteed peppers so I didn't want to make something too similar. So I went in a different direction for my spices; still Mexican-inspired but from a different region. This made for a dynamic dinner that only took a few minutes to make.

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October 14, 2013

Veal Cutlets with Spinach and Capers

3/4 lb thin veal cutlets*
1 lb fresh "baby" spinach
2 shallots, quartered and sliced thinly
1/3 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup white wine
juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons nonperil capers
2 tablespoons Herbs de Provence
1/4 cup "instant" flour (like Wondra)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon butter

Sprinkle both sides of each cutlet with Herbs de Provence. Sprinkle both sides with flour to coat. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet. Add the onions and cook until soft. Add the veal brown on each side. Add the stock, wine, capers and spinach and cook until the veal is fully cooked, the spinach has wilted and the liquid reduces slightly.

Serve over hot mashed potatoes or pasta.

*frequently labeled as "veal for scallopini"
My thoughts:
I can't say I cook a lot with veal. Honestly, I've hardly eaten it except mixed with other meat for meatloaf. But when faced with dinner ennui and a supermarket that was completely picked over as if the zombie apocalypse was nigh, I ended up with a packet of veal cutlets. Veal is kind of an expensive meat per pound but because the slices were so thin, it was very affordable to make a meal for 4 out of less than a pound of meat. I wasn't sure what to do with it but I ended up with this almost one dish meal that was super quick to make, tender and very flavorful. The Herbs de Provence added a lot of herb flavor with little effort and the capers added the perfect pickle punch that kept the dish from tasting too rich. A new favorite that I think would also be good made with thin turkey or chicken cutlets.

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October 09, 2013

Tortellini Soup with Sausage and Rapini

6 cups chicken or turkey stock
2 medium turnips, cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 green onions, diced
2 1/2 cups refrigerated cheese tortellini (about 24 oz)
2 cups chopped fresh or frozen rapini
1 lb smoked turkey sausage, cubed and browned
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Place the stock, turnips, onion, carrots, spices and celery in 4 quart slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low 8 hours then stir in the green onions, tortellini, rapini and sausage. Cover and continue to cook on low for 20-30 minutes or until warmed through.

My thoughts:
I've been terribly busy the last few weeks with a lot of recipe development jobs; one very large and a few small ones. Luckily, I can eat what I make but there are times dinner needs to be something other than cupcakes. In these instances the slow cooker in my best friend. For this recipe I prepped everything the night before (even browning the sausage!) and had a container of the spices and veggies that went in in the morning, a sausage container and a container with the rest of the PM ingredients. That morning I just dumped in my stock, the morning container and went about my day. Then, just a little bit before I wanted to eat, I dumped in the rest and voila, a meal that took only 2 minutes hands-on time the day I ate it. And you know what? It was really good! The turkey sausage added a smoky note and it was full of vegetables including one of my favorites, rapini.

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October 07, 2013

Hummingbird Muffins

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup crushed pineapple in juice
5.3 oz container Yoplait Greek yogurt Pineapple, at room temperature
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup mashed overripe banana
1/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350. Grease, spray with baking spray or line 18 wells in a muffin tin. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, sugar, pineapple, yogurt, oil and vanilla. Slowly stream in the dry ingredients and mix until well incorporated.

Fold in the mashed banana and then the pecans. Divide the batter evenly into wells. Top each with a pecan, if desired. Bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the center muffin comes out with just a few moist crumbs. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

My thoughts:
Hummingbird Cake is a Southern favorite. It first appeared in Southern Living in 1978 as part of an article about making the most of bananas. I've never had the chance to make one before but I've always kept in the back of my head as something to try one day. It combines pineapple, which I love, and bananas, which my husband loves into one moist cake. Recently Yoplait approached me about creating a recipe using their new flavored Greek yogurt, and I saw it came in pineapple, I figured now was the time! Rather than make a big cream cheese-frosted cake, I thought I'd make some breakfast-ready muffins instead. I love using Greek yogurt in muffins (as my archives will attest) because it makes the muffins so moist without being heavy. The pecans, banana and cinnamon make this muffin reminds me of autumn days spent making banana bread but the pineapple adds a little tropical punch. My husband said they were his new favorite banana muffins: moist and light with a nice crunch from the pecans.

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October 02, 2013

Catfish & Crawfish Vegetable Gumbo


2 teaspoons blackened fish seasoning
2 tablespoons hot sauce (for fish marinade)
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup oil
2 quarts seafood or chicken stock, at room temperature
1/2 cup white wine
1 large onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups diced fresh okra (about a pint of whole fresh okra)
1 1/2 cups (shelled) fresh lima beans (about a quart box's worth of pods)
5 peppers (mixture of cayenne, cajun belle, and fish)
1/2 lb collard greens, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 lbs catfish, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb green chile or andouille sausage, sliced into coins
2 tablespoons cajun seasoning
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
2 lbs of cooked crawfish, peeled (should end up with about 1 cup of crawfish tails)
1/2 cup chopped green onions

Place the catfish, blackened seasoning and hot sauce in a resealable bag. Toss to coat the fish and refrigerate. Brown sausage in a large pot. Remove to a plate. In the same pot you browned the sausage in, Over medium heat, cook the flour, oil, cajun seasoning and chipotle powder, whisking pretty often until it turns brown, but doesn't burn. Add the onions, garlic, lima beans, okra and peppers and saute until starting to soften and the roux has turned a light brown. Add the broth and wine and whisk until the roux mixes with the liquid. Add sausage and collards. Cook about 20-30 minutes until all vegetables are tender but not fully cooked. Add catfish and cook another 10 minutes until completely cooked. Add the green onions and crawfish tails and stir until heated all the way through. Serve over long grain rice.

My thoughts:

I was having dinner ennui the other day and Matt came up with the idea of making gumbo. I remembered that we had lima beans and okra in the fridge that I had bought at a local farm with no particular purpose in mind. He went to the store and bought green chile sausage (no andouille to be found), catfish and an unexpected surprise: crawfish. It was extra good crawfish too; very fresh. I had some wine that Dead Bolt wine had sent me to sample. It was on the sweet side, but it was perfect for the gumbo, it tempered the heat of the dish. The collards were an inspired addition as well, I like a lot of vegetables in my gumbo.

Honestly, it was one of my favorite gumbos, a dish with lots of seafood and lots of late summer/early autumn vegetables is pretty much my idea of the perfect meal.

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