Friday, September 30, 2005

Basking in the fall aroma

I've been wanting to make something with Pumpkin as that is one thing that really reminds me of the fall season. The first thing that came to my mind was a muffin and so it was made today! These big muffins have a nice dome and are pretty moist. The aroma in the house was exactly how I picture fall if you could smell the season. The spices bring so much to these muffins it is important to use as fresh as you can. While they are good plain, I could see adding crystallized ginger, cinnamon chips or chocolate chips to add some other fun flavor!

Spiced Pumpkin Muffins
*Click on the photo to enlarge

I've never had fried rice before so when I saw this recipe in one of my old CL magazines I saved it, but just tonight I finally had a chance to make it. I have nothing to compare it too, but we thought it was very good! Crisping up diced fresh ginger and garlic infused the oil that heated the rice and brought the flavor throughout the whole dish. I was not sure about the adding of the egg, I stuck with the recipe though and I guess it worked!

I served this along side of grilled chicken with a Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar BBQ sauce. The sauce needs only 15 minutes to cook and packs such a punch with sweetness and tang. I can see adding this to other meats - very good!

Blueberry Balsamic Vinegar BBQ Chicken with Ginger Fried Rice
*Click on the photo to enlarge

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Treats from England...

We received a great foodie gift in the mail today. Thanks to Mari K and Debra who were traveling in London and picked up these wonderful bottles of Wild Garlic sauce. I've never seen or tasted anything like this before and I can't wait to find a reason to use it.

On to dinner... we had another great casserole tonight. This one is pretty spicy and makes use of some leftover items in the fridge I needed to use up. Chili and Cheddar Bow Tie Casserole takes on a smokey flavor from cumin and chili powder while some chipotles in adobo add some much welcomed heat. Even though the amount of Canadian Bacon is small, crisping it up in the butter brought out its taste throughout the sauce and combined with the sharp White Cheddar I used it was perfect. There is a little leftover in the fridge just waiting to be eaten for lunch tomorrow.

Chili and Cheddar Bow Tie Casserole
*Click on the photo to enlarge

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Dinner in a snap...

The caramel apple bars that Jeff brought in this morning I think went over very well! I hope they enjoyed them as much as I did making them - the leftover caramel is very good! I just might have to find a reason to make these again soon!

I have FoodTV on quite a bit when I can and when I saw Ms EVOO Rachel Ray making this I had to find the recipe because it looked way to easy to be good. I sometimes find that when we make her recipes, it can take longer than 30 minutes but this one is an exception. These sandwiches are a snap to prepare because it uses deli roast beef and the au jus is pretty simple. I used a toasted sourdough roll for the bun and with the warm juice it doesn't get much better than this for a fast dinner! I did gently simmer the sliced beef in the juice for 5 minutes or so to give a little flavor and to warm the meat.

French Dip Sandwiches (Adapted from Rachel Ray)
*Click on the photo to enlarge

French Dip Sandwich

Since I've been tagged 3 times by Sweetnicks, Catherine, and KitchenMage for the 23/5 meme I guess I should get around to it!

The goal is to go back to the 23rd post from the start of their blog, take the 5th sentence, and think about why you wrote what you did. When you are done tag 5 others to join in!

My 5th sentence is "I was outside early this morning and noticed a tree rose bush we planted a few months ago is finally coming into its own."

I wanted to write about this because we ordered the bush from an on-line source and it looked pretty bad when we first opened up the box. We were pretty skeptical that it would grow in our soil (if you can even call it that out here) but it finally look off! It is now growing like wildfire after our monsoon and I can't wait to keep seeing all the flowers it will make.

Here's my list of fellow food bloggers to tag:
The Savory Notebook, The Bakers Rack, Poco-Cocoa, Busy Nights Real Food, and Everybody likes Sandwiches.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Fun with Caramel

Keeping with the fall theme this week I found a recipe that had me at first glance. Being Tuesday it was a perfect day to get these made so Jeff could bring these in for his co-workers. Caramel Apple Bars have a chewy and oatmeal cookie like crust topped with sliced apples and homemade caramel. You can use the premade caramel squares mixed with a couple tablespoons of milk, but making your own is so much better! With some of the base thrown on top to give some added crunch these bake into a delicious fall bar cookie.

Caramel Apple Bars
*Click on the photo to enlarge

After finding some great goat cheese in Whole Foods, I found this recipe I saved from an older Gourmet Magazine. Orzo with Ham and Goat Cheese is a very simple recipe, but has a lot of flavor. Instead of cooking the orzo in water as the recipe suggests, I used chicken broth as I thinks it lends a great taste to the pasta. This is like a big bowl of comfort food for us. The dish ended up having a creamy texture inside with a nice crunch on top from briefly broiling. Hard to believe with such few ingredients that this has so much flavor!

Orzo with Ham and Goat Cheese
*Click on the photo to enlarge

Monday, September 26, 2005

Feeling fallish

You may notice that this week's menu has hints of fall and comfort foods. Even though it is still well over 100 degrees out here I still get that "fall time" feeling when it gets to this point in the year.

After glancing through a few cookbooks looking for something that reminded me of the fall season I found this recipe. These sturdy cookies have a nice maple flavor and are pretty thick. They have a crisp outside but are soft and chewy in the inside. I'm not one who usually enjoys nuts in baked items but I think in these cookies they bring such a depth of flavor and crunch.

Maple-Walnut Cookies
This casserole for dinner went over really well. This has a lot of sauce, so if you like that this one is for you! I did vary the recipe a bit and my changes are noted. The sauce is smooth and creamy and with the tender broccoli/chicken combo the texture is very pleasing.

I served Shredded Brussels Sprouts with Bacon and Hazelnuts (CL) along with this. Shredding the sprouts in the food processor saves on time and this side comes together very fast. The toasted hazelnuts bring crunch and of course the bacon and drippings only help to add to the overall great taste. As long as the sprouts are left crisp tender and not mushy it's surely to be a hit!

Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (CL)


Sunday, September 25, 2005

Weekend Dog Blogging #2

Sweetnicks is hosting the new Weekend Dog Blogging event where food bloggers come out and show their pups! This is our sad older puppy Spike. As you can see he has a bandage on his foot because he has a couple tumors that he licks at and they keep coming back. We've tried surgery to make them go away and we've done the lampshade (oh I wish we had a camera then!) but nothing seems to keep them from coming back. He is a rescue dog with some jack russel terrior in him and is about 15 years old. I hope we can get his leg figured out soon so he can get back to his happy self!

After I finally finished the menu for the week we went and got the grocery shopping done. I believe this will be another busy with new recipes week so I hope you can check back with us and see how we do!

Our netflix selection for tonight will be Meet the Fockers. We enjoyed the first movie and I hope this one can live up to it!

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Week in Review

This last week was pretty busy in the kitchen! 11 new recipes and I think we enjoyed each one.

As usual, I made the saturday salads for dinner tonight but there is a couple things I did do different. The last couple times we were in San Francisco we ate at a place called Firewood Cafe in the Metreon and had a great salad there. The one thing that stood out for me is how they prepared their apples for the salad. I wrote them an e-mail and they let me know what they did.

Using granny smith apples they marinate them in lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, a dash of salt and a dash of sugar. I did the same tonight and it tasted just like it. Very fresh with a nice bite and I liked the added crunch in the salad.

Our DVD selection for tonight from Netflix is School of Rock with Jack Black. We ment to see this one in the theater, but never got around to making it there. Check back and see what we are doing this upcoming week - I suspect the kitchen will be very busy again!

Friday, September 23, 2005

Using up some chicken...

After filling up the freezer with chicken a few weekends ago I have been keeping my eye out for new and different chicken recipes. I came across this one a couple months ago in my large stack that I have set aside from different magazines and have been meaning to make it. Knowing that I enjoy lemons with chicken I knew this was going to be good. Lemon Chicken Pita Burgers with Spiced Yogurt Sauce is shown below.

Instead of buying pre-ground chicken, for the first time I just made it myself (hello it's about time...) It's much cheaper this way and it was super easy in the food processor. I was going to use the grinder attachment for my KitchenAid mixer but wanted to try it in the FP to see how it would work. Thumbs up! The chicken held together very well and is quite juicy. The sauce is just enough for each patty to be coated well so you get some in each bite. The tang from the yogurt and lemon brings out such a unique flavor in the chicken with the greek seasoning we used. I served some of Trader Joe's Spicy Flax Tortilla chips on the side.

Lemon Chicken Pita Burgers with Spiced Yogurt Sauce(CL)

1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon Moroccan or Greek seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 pound ground chicken
2 teaspoons grated lemon rind, divided
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
4 (6-inch) pitas, cut in half
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/2 cup diced tomato

Combine first 6 ingredients and add 1 teaspoon rind, stirring well. Divide the mixture into 8 portions, shaping each into 1/4" thick oval patties.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 3-4 minutes.

Combine remaining 1 teaspoon rind, yogurt, and oregano, stirring well. Fill each pita half with 1 patty, 1 tablespoon yogurt mixture, 1/4 cup lettuce, and 1 tablespoon tomato.

Serves - 4

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Uh oh... dogs have no biscuits!

***I think I fixed the issue with people viewing in the 800X600 display. If you are still having problems please let me know by sending me an email! Thank you!

I discovered yesterday that we were totally out of the peanut butter snaps that we made for the puppies before. I was going to make them again today, but decided I would try something different and made a more savory biscuit for the dogs. These get their flavor from cheddar cheese and garlic. They are much more thick that the previous treats, but still remain fairly crispy. Spike and Max really liked these! I played around with a Dachshund cookie cutter I found - the result is pretty neat. We don't currently have that kind of dog but will be our next one I think!
Garlic and Cheddar Dog Biscuits
For dinner tonight, I found this recipe some time ago and finally got around to trying it. The recipe caught my eye because of the way it is made - making frittata's and then cutting them into 1/4" ribbons and mixing with a tomato sauce. I guess it would almost be a replacement for pasta, but I'm not sure what they were going for. These came together so quick and with the pecorino topping gave these a nice peppery flavor. The texture was a bit different but overall it was a good dish!

Baked Frittata Ribbons in Tomato Sauce(CL)
Baked Frittata Ribbons in Tomato Sauce(CL)

Cooking spray
2 cups finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped seeded peeled plum tomatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 large eggs
4 large egg whites
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh pecorino Romano cheese

To prepare sauce, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion, 2 tablespoons parsley, basil, and garlic; cook 7 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Preheat broiler.

To prepare frittata, combine 1/4 cup parsley and next 4 ingredients (parsley through egg whites), stirring with a whisk until well blended. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; coat pan with cooking spray. Add half of egg mixture, and cook 2 minutes or until bottom is set. Carefully turn frittata over. Cook 1 minute. Place cooked frittata on a cutting board. Repeat procedure with remaining egg mixture.

Roll up cooked frittatas, jelly-roll fashion, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Combine sauce, frittata ribbons, and cheese in a medium bowl, tossing to coat. Divide the frittata mixture evenly among 6 (6-ounce) ramekins or custard cups. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is thoroughly heated.

Serves 6.

Garlic and Cheddar Dog Biscuits

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 Teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, or whatever you have on hand
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup skim milk

Preheat oven to 400

Combine flour and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and add remaining ingredients graduallly, stirring until well blended.

Knead dough on a floured surface 3-4 minutes.

Roll dough to 1/4 inch thick and cut into your favorite shapes. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake 15-18 minutes until golden brown.

Cool on wire rack and let the doggies enjoy!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Treats for a friend

**For users who view this in a 800 X 600 screen resolution you may notice some issues - we are currently trying to work out these issues and ask for your patience! Thanks! As you can see I have changed the look of the website. If you happen to find anything that does not work right in your browser please feel free to e-mail me with the link on the right hand side.

A friend of ours flew in today and wanted to know if I would make her something that was crunchy and chocolately. I sent her a list of options and got a quick responce back. I was happy with the selection as it was something i've never done before and wanted to! These crackers were very easy to work with and definetly make the repeat for gifts list. They have an intense chocolate flavor and have a quite a snap to them. Here they are wrapped up so we can give them away tomorrow (I did keep some this time for myself - they are very good!)

Chocolate Graham Crackers
Another two new dishes for dinner tonight. I was a little concerned after I started reading some reviews of this recipe that it was bland and that it didn't come out well. I'm not sure what happened when they made it but I'm very happy I stuck with it because this was quite good! I used fresh sweet corn and I think that made a big difference. I upped the spices a tad and would do so again.

Corn Pudding
The main dish tonight was a very tasty combination of couscous, chicken, dried cherries, fire roasted tomatoes and quite a few spices. The smokey cumin, spicey ground red pepper, woody flavor from the thyme and the interesting addition of all-spice and clove combine to make such a different yet captavating sauce.

Spiced Chicken with Couscous

Chocolate Graham Crackers(Adapated from KA Cookie Companion)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup dutch-process cocoa, sifted
1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold butter
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cold milk

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Cut two sheets of parchment as long as your baking sheets (I used 13 X 18 cookie sheets) and set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. With a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour mixture until you achieve small lumps throughout. In a small bowl, combine the honey and milk, stirring until the honey dissolves. Add the milk mixture to the dry ingredients and toss lightly with a fork until the dough starts to form. If it looks a little dry, add just a touch more milk.

Scrape the dough onto a well floured surface and fold it gently about 12 times, just until it turns smooth. Divide the dough in half. Working with one piece at a time while keeping the remaining dough covered.

Roll out one piece of dough on the cut parchment paper about a bit larger than a 10 X 14" rectangle. The dough should be about 1/16" thick. Trim the edges and prick the dough evenly with a fork.

Place the parchment paper onto your baking sheet and baking for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and immediately with a sharp knife or pizza wheel cut into 16 rectangles. Cool on your pan for 10 minutes and then break along the lines and cool completely on a wire rack.

Corn Pudding(CL)

3 cups corn kernels (about 6 ears)
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups 1% low-fat milk
1/2 cup egg substitute
2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine corn, chives, thyme, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk together the milk, egg substitute, cream cheese, and egg in a medium bowl. Add the milk mixture to the corn mixture, and stir well to combine. Pour the corn mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for about 55 minutes or until top of pudding is golden brown.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Three new winners...

**As you can see I have changed the look of the website. If you happen to find anything that does not work right in your browser please feel free to e-mail me with the link on the right hand side. Thanks!

Yesterday we put the solar cover back on the pool since the temperature has started to get chilly at night (if you can call 70 chilly...) and the water was slowly getting colder. I wanted to go for a swim tonight so I took the cover off and put my foot in the first couple inches and it was so warm! It registered around 90 degrees so I jumped in... wow was that a mistake. The bottom temperature was only around 75.. it felt so much colder! No fair!

It is Tuesday again so that means I had to find something to make for the co-workers tomorrow. I wanted to test another cookie recipe I've had set aside so I made sure to get all the ingredients this weekend. I made the dough early this morning so it had plenty of chilling time in the refrigerator to help in shaping. I formed the dough around a single rolo caramel candy and then dipped the tops in granulated sugar before baking. The cookie has a slight crispy edge while the center remains soft. I was afraid that inside filling would burst out and over the cookies but none of them did - not one leak! Yeah!

I could not find any cranberries (fresh or frozen) for the side dish tonight. I guess I could of used dried but I decided to try and substitute tart cherries and I am very glad I did! I think this combination went together very well and would make that change again. I would love to make this how it was originally written just to see the difference when the cranberries are in season this fall. I like how the color from the juice and cherries turned the orzo a light purplish color.

Wild Rice and Cranberry(or cherry!) Salad(CL)
Dinner tonight was a pretty interesting combination. I had some leftover boneless pork in the freezer so I found a recipe in my files that looked tempting. The pork is flavored with a Jerk seasoning (I used Penzey's) and served with a fresh warm pineapple salsa. The chops are very juicy and have quite a spicy kick, but the sweet pineapple salsa has a nice cooling effect and evens everything beautifully.

Skillet Pork and Pineapple Salsa(CL)

Wild Rice and Cranberry Salad

3/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1/4 cup cranberry juice cocktail
1 tablespoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups cooked wild rice (about 1/2 cup uncooked)
1 cup cooked orzo (about 1/2 cup uncooked rice-shaped pasta)
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

For the dressing, combine first 4 ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in vinegar, oil, salt, and black pepper. Place in the refrigerator to chill slightly. To prepare salad, combine wild rice and remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle rice mixture with dressing, tossing to coat.

6 servings
Per serving - Calories 134 - Fat 3.8g - Protein 3.4g - Fiber 1.5g - Carbohydrate 22.9g

Monday, September 19, 2005

Happy Birthday Jeff!

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So that is where the brownies from yesterday went. Jeff and one of his co-workers have a birthday that is fairly close and they requested brownies to celebrate with their teams. They all went to work and none came home - Maybe I will have to make a half batch just so I can try some!

Being a big kid at heart he likes disney a lot (maybe that's an understatement...) so I was trying to figure out what kind of cake to make. I found the pan and decided to try and make a mickey face cake.
I'm not the best cake decorater so hopefully it came out ok. I didn't get the exact tint for the icing of the face but it's pretty close from the picture. The stars are hard to see with the black tinting, but it looks just like the other colors close up. I used Vanilla buttercream for all colors execpt black which I used a chocolate buttercream (so the black color would be attainable without bitterness from the coloring.)

The actual cake recipe was King Arthurs Elegant White Cake. This one bakes up beautifully and has a fine crumb while still quite moist. The cake is very white on the inside and the taste is pretty light.The dinner request was for BBQ chicken pizza - I made a whole wheat dough that I normally use. I thought I would use this one to play around with for future entertaining - that's why it is in the ring shape. I think we could use this in the future as a fun appetizer with a dip or something in the center. After laying the BBQ chicken mixture around in a circle you make 8 cuts in the center and pull each one towards the back crust and tuck under.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

How much for that brownie in the window?

**As you can see I have changed the look of the website. If you happen to find anything that does not work right in your browser please feel free to e-mail me with the link on the right hand side. Thanks!

After getting the recipes ready last night I made my list and we went off to the grocery store. Found everything I needed execpt fresh cranberries as they are not in season yet (do they even come frozen?)

I had a request that I needed to fill for tomorrow (check back tomorrow to find out why!) in which I ended up making these brownies today. I have done them before and they are so crazy rich and good. They are packed with pieces of oreos and are quite fudgy (my favorite kind....) so I like to refrigerate them for clean cutting.

Our DVD for tonight from netflix will be XXX: State of the Union. I've seen both good and bad reviews - last night's movie was pretty good. We did have a problem with the disc so we missed about 10 mins in the center and near the end. Oh well!

Keep checking back this week - it will be full of new recipes and a fair amount of baking! Stay tuned!

Outrageous Oreo Crunch Brownies (Adapted from Ina Garten)

4 sticks butter
1 pound semisweet chocolate chips
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
7 large eggs
2 tablespoons espresso, instant powder
2 tablespoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 cup plus 1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped Oreo cookies about 50 cookies

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Butter and flour an 12″ x 18″ x 1″ baking pan. I like to use foil for ease of getting them out. In a heatproof medium bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, heat butter, chocolate chips and unsweetened chocolate until melted and smooth. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, coffee, vanilla and sugar. Blend chocolate mixture into egg mixture; cool to room temperature.

In a medium bowl, sift together one cup flour, baking powder and salt. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture. In a small bowl, stir Oreos and remaining 1/4 cup flour. Add Oreo mixture to chocolate mixture. Pour batter into baking pan and smooth top with a rubber spatula.

Bake 28-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted 3 inches from center comes out clean with some crumbs attached; do not overbake. Allow to cool. Refrigerate to get clean cuts.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Weekend Cat Blogging 15

Clare at Eat Stuff each weekend hosts an event called Weekend Cat Blogging where cat food bloggers share photos of their kitties! We introduced Miss Kitty a couple weekends ago. Every once in awhile we bring her outside so she can run around and explore the big world of the backyard. Instead, being her lazy self she decided to just sit down and watch the birds!

Weekend breakfast around here usually involves eggs and toast. This morning we went for simplicity with Mickey Eggs and Honey Wheat Black Bread with jam.

Dinner tonight will be the saturday night chicken salads as usual!

Next up from Netflix tonight will be the comedy Something's Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. After the movie I'll be checking out some cookbooks and the stack of untried recipes looking for more new ones. Stay tuned to what we will be up to this week!

Friday, September 16, 2005

New favorite?

Awww - such a happy puppy dog. This was taken after he was done running around outside trying to find his little salamander buddies! He tries for hours to catch them but they are just too speedy for him!Didn't get a chance to bake anything new today. Although we did try a another new pasta dish and this one could easily become one of my favorites! It is very quick to throw together and I usually have all these ingredients on hand. This has a thick and chunky tomato sauce with just enough juice so the pasta is well coated. Next time I might add a few shakes of red pepper flakes but otherwise I wouldn't change a thing! Grated Asiago brings a nice finish on top and brings together the pasta and sauce.

Turkey Bolognese(CL)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
12 ounces ground turkey breast
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (8-ounce) can no salt-added tomato sauce
4 cups hot cooked penne pasta
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Asiago cheese

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey, and cook 4 minutes or until turkey is browned, stirring to crumble. Add oregano and next 7 ingredients (oregano through tomato sauce); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in pasta; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Sprinkle with cheese. Serves 4.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

It's cool enough.. right?

We've been under 100 degrees all week! Although the future forcasts move us back over 100 for the weekend I decided it was cool enough (for me anyway) to make some soup! Even though this one has chicken and turkey sausage it is still light tasting with a hint of spice from the hot sausage. The added vegetables help to bulk up the soup along with a basmati and wild rice blend. I served some simple tortilla chips along side and called it a meal. We ended up with three nice sized servings so that leaves me with one for lunch tomorrow.

Chicken, Sausage, and Rice Soup(Adapted from CL)

4 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage
2 4oz chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups frozen chopped onion
2 thyme sprigs
1/3 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped carrot
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups al dente cooked rice (about 7 mins short of being finished)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Remove casings from sausage. Combine sausage and chicken in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over high heat; cook 2 minutes, stirring to crumble sausage. Add onion and thyme; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add celery, carrot, and broth; bring to a boil.

Stir the pre-cooked rice into broth mixture. Cover, reduce heat to medium, and cook 7 minutes or until rice is tender. Discard thyme sprigs. Stir in parsley, salt, and pepper.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Too much zucchini

I had some leftover zucchini I wanted to use up today, so after going through some cookbooks I spotted a recipe that sounded good. These cookies are adapated from the KA Cookie Companion. Lemon-Zucchini Drops have a great texture as they are a little crunchy on the outside, but the inside is still very tender. The lemon zest in the cookie stands out quite well against the dried cranberries, cinnamon and zucchini. A simple lemon glaze is poured on over the top that hardens slightly.

Tonight for dinner we had a great pasta dish. Four-Cheese Stuffed Shells with Smoky Marinara(CL). The pasta shells are stuffed with ricotta, cottage cheese, asiago, parmesan and some chopped spinach. The marinara is fantastic with this combo. Fresh basil, fire roasted tomatoes, olive oil and garlic - how could that go wrong? This made 2 9X13 filled pans so you could freeze one unbaked and throw that one in the oven at a later date for a quick dinner!

Requested Recipe - Decadent peanut butter cups

Decadent peanut butter cups

440g Smooth Peanut Butter
225g Confectioners' Sugar
50g Brown Sugar
500g Good Quality Dark Chocolate
90g softened butter, divided (60g and 30g)

In a mixer place the peanut butter, both sugars and 60g of softened butter into the bowl. Mix on medium until well combined. This will be fairly soft and a little tacky.

Place between 1/2 to 1 tablespoon of the peanut butter mixture into shallow candy cups (you can use muffin papers if you couldnt find them). How much you place depends on how big your cups are. Try to fill them about 1/2 full and smooth the top with your finger.

After all papers are filled, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in a microwave. If doing in the microwave try and use half power for 2-3 minutes - mixing every 30 seconds. When melted stir in the remaining butter (30g) and place in the microwave for 30 seconds or back over the double boiler until the butter starts to melt. Mix the two together well.

Spoon the chocolate evenly over each cup. If needed, very carefully smooth the chocolate with a knife or place a thin spatula underneath the paper and gently shake back and forth. Place the filled cups into the refrigerator until the chocolate is set. If you want a firmer peanut butter layer go ahead and place in the freezer.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Sophisticated Reese's

Being Tuesday, I needed something to make for Jeff to bring in for the Wednesday treat day so his coworkers can "test" what I've been making. This was a little labor intensive but I must say it was worth it. After my first bite I was in love! A decadent dark chocolate layer on top controls the sweetness of the creamy, but still firm peanut butter layer. You can still see the little pieces of brown sugar in the bottom layer that adds to the richness of these little gems. I'm not sure how many will actually make it to the office tomorrow, but I know one thing - I will be making these again! The second picture has a little glare from the light - sorry about that!

Why not keep the sweet theme going? Tonight was breakfast for dinner. Orange-Almond French Toast Casserole(adapted from CL) is very much like a giant sticky bun, execpt it is much better! We don't care for "soft/mushy" french toast and this is much the opposite! It is quite firm, but not quite crunchy. It does not have that soggy factor that sometimes happens. Flavor from the orange juice and zest makes this dish stand out from normal french toast. The orginial recipe called for pecans but I was out so I used sliced almonds and would do so again. I also used Golden Syrup instead of the corn syrup. This is crazy good - I served soft scrambled eggs on the side to offset the sweetness.

Orange-Almond French Toast Casserole (My adapted version from CL)

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons Lyle's Golden Syrup
Cooking spray
1/3 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup milk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
2 large eggs
12 (1-inch-thick) slices French bread

Combine brown sugar, butter, and golden syrup; pour into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle sliced almonds evenly over sugar mixture and gently press down.

Combine rind and next 7 ingredients (rind through eggs); stir with a whisk. Arrange bread slices over sliced almonds in dish; pour egg mixture over bread. Cover overnight.

Preheat oven to 350°

Uncover and let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until lightly browned.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Starting the week off right...

Two new recipes for dinner tonight. The first was Pecan-Crusted Tilapia(CL). The chopped pecans, even though the amount is small, gave this fish such a crunchy and toasted nutty flavor. Added hot sauce in the buttermilk has a slight spicy kick. I heard the comment of "You have to make this one again! Promise!" So I think this one is a winner.

I served Spicy Roasted Potatoes and White Asparagus(adapted from CL) along side. I noticed this asparagus for the first time at a local store and then had to find a recipe to use it! I find that this kind has a more mild flavor than its green counterpart. It seemed almost bitter, but not quite. The potatoes were the star here though - minced garlic and parmesan cheese with the right amount of spice were some of the best ones we've had yet from CL.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Fall is on its way...

It was so nice when I woke up this morning and saw it was only 73 degrees at 5am. Even though it still reached 100 fairly quickly, it's a small sign our fall is coming! I already notice the pool water coolin' down.

Quite the busy day so far. After getting the list together we headed out and got most of the groceries for the next few days. This upcoming week features lots of new recipes again for us with a couple new items we have not tried before. Even though the dishes for dinner so far sound exciting - I think i've got more important things on my mind... Like this

Dark chocolate and peanut butter - make sure you stick around and see what we make with this combo. I'm not sure I can even wait! Dinner tonight will be simple grilled turkey dogs with hot mustard and spicy soy/flaxseed tortilla chips.

Dvd from Netflix tonight will be Man of the House with Tommy Lee Jones. This looked like a good comedy - I hope the reviews hold up! Stay tuned for more of our food adventures everyday this week!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Time for refills

After going for a nice bike ride (except for the hilly parts!) it was time for a trip to one of my favorite stores!

I was running low on a couple of our most used spices so I figured we would go and stock up some. I've been to this store I think 4 times now since it opened - the intense aroma when you open the door is almost overwhelming! Our first stop no one was in the store, but this time they had quite a few people coming and going. Some of the items we got were Cocoa - Dutch process, Vietnamese Cinnamon, Ancho Chili powder, Hot Chili powder, and Jerk seasoning.

After we were done there we headed over to a newer Wild Oats Market and just wandered the store. We made sure to spend a few(!) minutes at the chocolate stand (Bulk Valrhona and Callebaut).
9 new recipes were made this week - will be spending sometime tonight going through the stacks to see what will be made this upcoming week. I usually have some ideas going but nothing yet! Dinner tonight is our Saturday Chicken Salads.

Netflix for tonight brings us Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Tomorrow brings shopping for groceries - hopefully I can get my list done early! Stay tuned and see what we will be up to this week!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Ressurecting an older kitchen toy

I had half a bag of Soba noodles left over from Trader Joe's that I wanted to get used up. Since we had a ton of chicken in the freezer I found a recipe that would them and use up some other leftover veggies too. The dressing makes these noodles come alive with the fresh grated ginger and toasted sesame oil. I grilled up the chicken in the griddler and topped this with coarsley chopped, roasted peanuts. A snap to prepare with a lot of flavor!

Cold Soba Noodles with Turkey(or chicken)CL

Rummaging through the cabinets today I found a fun kitchen item that I have not used for a few years. I love pizzelles and finding the iron gave me the notion to run and get my KA Cookie companion and sure enough they had a recipe! Scanned the list... Score! Happen to have everything on hand to make this one. I found the recipe I used to use but wanted to use a new one. I forgot how easy these were to make. Little fuss for these great tasting crisp italian cookies! Next time, I will have to shape some of them into bowls for ice cream!


Requested Recipe - Chicken and Basmati Rice Pilau with Saffron, Spinach, and Cardamom

Chicken and Basmati Rice Pilau with Saffron, Spinach, and Cardamom(CL)

Serves 5

1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
3/4 cup dried lentils
Cooking spray
10 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds)
2 cups vertically sliced onion
2 teaspoons chopped peeled fresh ginger
1 cup shredded carrot
4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind
1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 1 orange)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 cups warm fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon saffron threads, crushed
1 (6-ounce) package fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 cup blanched almonds

Cover rice with cold water. Let stand for 20 minutes. Drain and rinse the rice with cold water. Drain.

Sort and rinse lentils. Place lentils in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer 20 minutes or until almost tender. Drain.

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan. Add onion and ginger to pan; sauté 7 minutes or until tender. Add carrot and cardamom; sauté 2 minutes. Return chicken to pan. Add rice, lentils, rind, juice, salt, and pepper. Combine broth and saffron; stir until saffron is dissolved. Add saffron mixture to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes or until rice is almost tender and liquid is absorbed. Stir in spinach. Remove from heat. Cover with a towel; place lid over towel. Let stand 10 minutes.

Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds; cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Sprinkle almonds over chicken mixture.

CALORIES 601(19% from fat); FAT 12.7g (sat 2.2g,mono 6.1g,poly 2.8g); PROTEIN 40.1g; CHOLESTEROL 96mg; CALCIUM 119mg; SODIUM 837mg; FIBER 14.5g; IRON 7.4mg; CARBOHYDRATE 85.8g

Recipe Request - Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche

Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche(CL)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup vertically sliced onion
1 garlic clove, minced
5 cups broccoli florets
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Swiss cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 1 1/2 minutes. Add broccoli; sauté 1 minute. Spread broccoli mixture into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Combine milk and next 8 ingredients (milk through eggs) in a large bowl. Pour milk mixture over broccoli mixture; sprinkle with Parmesan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until top is golden and a knife inserted in center comes out clean; let stand 5 minutes.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Broccoli overload...

When I was out yesterday there was some great looking broccoli on sale so I had to grab a few. I love making anything with broccoli as it has so many health benefits. It's a great quick snack to have around raw too! I never ate any while growing up but as an adult have grown to enjoy it.

I had this recipe laying around since I think '03 in the stack - I thought it was about time to try it! The dish was filled to the brim (literally) with broccoli. I almost thought it was going to be too much but it worked out great. I used a sweet, silky, and buttery fontina cheese since it melds in so well. I did add a little cayenne for that extra kick! Freshly grated nutmeg, even only being 1/8 teaspoon, really helps build a great background flavor. With the broccoli not being fully submerged in the egg mixture, it has a chance to slightly caramelize the tender broccoli florets. A sprinkling of parmesan on top finished off the quiche.

Crustless Broccoli and Cheese Quiche(CL)

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Caramel Frosted Chocolate Chip Zucchini Sheet Cake Recipe

Caramel Frosted Chocolate Chip Zucchini Sheet Cake (BBCL Val)

3/4 c butter -- softened
2 c packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
3 c flour
1 1/2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup miniature chocolate chips (or more)
Caramel Frosting:
1/2 c butter
1 c brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

Cream butter, brown sugar, vanilla and eggs in bowl. Stir together flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder in a separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and stir until combined. Batter will be pretty thick. Fold in zucchini and chocolate chips. Spread in greased 15 x 10 inch jellly roll pan. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes.

For the frosting: Bring butter, brown sugar, and milk to a boil in saucepan. Boil for 3 minutes. Stir in confectioners' sugar. Spread over cake (this is the type of frosting that hardens, so you shouldn't take your time in the spreading step).

Cookie report...

The cookies went over very well today - and as I suspected the chocolate filled ones were preferred over the jam ones. I did like the jam ones, but the chocolate really won me over.

I went to a couple stores late this afternoon looking for some cardamom pods since I didn't have any luck on Sunday. Finally found some after the third store!

I needed to find them for the recipe tonight - I could have used ground cardamom, but wanted the flavor punch you can get from the encased seeds. This is the dish where we used the saffron. A mix of basmatic rice, red lentils, and fresh orange juice mixed very will and really gave the meal a refreshing taste. Carrots lent a nice sweetness with chicken being added in for some protein and spinach for additional flavor/color. The serving size was pretty generous for a CL recipe.

Chicken and Basmati Rice Pilau with Saffron, Spinach, and Cardamom

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More heat please...

I made a recipe similar to tonight's dinner not too long ago - but that was more of a stir-fry with the same name. This one ends up more sauce and is served on top of a blend of rices that I frequently use. It called for 6 dried red chilies, but next time I think I would add a couple more as we like things on the spicy side. The orange flavor from the peel and grand marnier do come through more than the other dish.

Spicy Orange Beef(CL '04)
Tuesday is my "bake something to bring into Jeff's office" day as I've said before so I thought I would use this time to test out some recipes for the upcoming holidays. I found this on Epicurious, but believe it's from Rose Levy Beranbaum. These have a very intense peanut butter flavor - half are filled with a dark chocolate/milk chocolate mixture that I hand piped in. The other half are filled with a smooth jam. The cookies have a classic sandy peanut butter cookie texture, but still remain very light. The chocolate/PB ones do remind me of bitting into a reeses! I had a quite a bit of chocolate leftover so I thought I would pipe out the remaining into stars and reserve them for future cookies (who am I kidding? for future eating!)

Peanut butter and Jelly Jewels