Friday, December 4, 2009

Mac and Cheese

Hmmmm.......  What else can you say about homemade mac and cheese?  It's comfort food x a million.

I made this for Adam's 1st birthday party and it was a hit.  So simple to make, creamy and tasty.  It's done in under 30 minutes.  If you want, throw the completed mac and cheese in a casserole dish, cover with breadcrumbs and shredded cheddar and bake on 375 until melted and golden brown.

I got this recipe from Food

Stove Top Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

1/2 pound elbow macaron
4 tablespoons butter
2 eggs
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat. 

2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Foolproof Brown Rice

I know, I know....." A recipe for brown rice?" you're thinking.  But, if you are like most people, brown rice scares the b'jeebers out of you.  It's so much more healthy for you, but tends to be crunchy and just not like white rice. 

I tried feeding more brown rice to the family, but it always went over like a lead balloon.  Abe would even grimace when I said I was making it.  So, after all of that rejection ::sniff::::, I went against my better judgment and just went back to making white rice.

Until I found this recipe.  Now I LOVE brown rice.  Even Abe and Jimi.... yes, Jimi.... will eat it.  I won't fool you.  It's no white rice.  But it is a pretty attractive cousin.  And as the song says, if you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with. 

So, embrace the brown rice.  Your heart and waistline will thank you.

I got this recipe from a Cook's Illustrated Light Recipes magazine.

Foolproof Brown Rice
Serves 6

1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees.  Spread rice in 8-inch square glass baking dish.

2.  Bring water and oil to boil, covered in medium saucepan over high heat; once boiling, immediately stir in salt and pour water over rice.  Over baking dish tightly with double layer of foil.  Bake rice 1 hour, until tender.

3.  Remove baking dish from oven and uncover.  Fluff rice with fork, then cover dish with a clean kitchen towel; let rice stand 5 minutes.  Uncover and let rice stand 5 minutes longer; serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Cod with Fennel and Onions

This tasty and simple fish dish calls for cod, but any firm white fish will do.  It's a good recipe for when you want a fish recipe that is something a little different, but not too different.

The fennel seems like an odd addition, but it adds a really fresh taste.  The potatoes add a hardiness that fish dishes often lack.

I had to adjust the original recipe because I don't have oven-safe pans.  I also had to add a little bit of time to get flaky fish and tender potatoes, so keep that in mind when you cook it.

I got this recipe from

Cod with Fennel and Onions

  • 1 large build fennel, trimmed of tough tops -- reserving 2 tablespoons of the fronds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium to large yellow skinned onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 large or 2 medium russet potatoes, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds cod, cut into 4 portions, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
  • Crusty bread, to pass at table

1. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat and preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

2. Cut tops off the fennel bulb. Reserve a few tablespoons of fronds (lacy dill-like greens) and chop. Quarter the bulb, then cut into each quarter on an angle to remove the core. Thinly slice the fennel.

3.  Add extra-virgin olive oil, fennel and onion to the pan and saute them, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Season with salt. Add wine and reduce by half. Add potatoes to the pan in thin layers, completely covering the fennel and onions, working all the way to the edges of the pan. Pour the stock evenly over the pan. Season fish with salt and pepper. Arrange the fish on the potatoes. Bring the liquids to a bubble. Cover the pan and transfer to oven. Bake fish 15 minutes, until opaque, then uncover and bake for 2 or 3 minutes more.

If you don't have an oven-safe pan, simply transfer the fish and veggies to a casserole dish, making sure the fish is on top.  Please check for doneness at the end of the time and add more time, if needed.

4. Transfer fish and vegetables to shallow bowls or dinner plates and garnish with parsley and fronds. Spoon juices down over the food. Serve with crusty bread for dipping.


Thursday, November 19, 2009

Apple Pie

Image via Google

Abe and Jimi love apple pie. They ask me to make it a lot and it's always the dessert I make when I want to show a little extra love. I've offered to make them different kinds of pie- pecan, lemon, blueberry, anything for a little variety.  All get shot down with a "No, can you make apple, please?"  Fine, apple it is.

Lots of different types of apples can be used, but I like a combo of Granny Smith and Macintosh.  The Granny Smiths add tartness and the Macs cook down to almost apple sauce and add a great texture.

The reason that the shortening is cold (or frozen) is so that it goes in hard and will melt while baking, making for a very fluffy crust. 

The tapioca makes the juice of the apples silky smooth and prevents a super watery pie.  It can be found in your baking aisle.

I like a lot of different recipes, but this one I go back to again and again.  I found it in our local newspaper. It won best apple pie. 

My Father's Apple Pie 
by Fred Burns


2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold shortening (try freezing it first)
1/4 cup ice cold water
1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
1 large egg


1 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons quick-cook tapioca
5 average-size apples, peeled, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
5 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces

For the crust, in a large bowl, combine flour, sugar and salt.  Cut in shortening with pastry blender until coarse crumbles form.

In a separate bowl, combine cold water, vinegar and egg and whip lightly, then add to the flour mixture, stirring lightly with a fork until it becomes a sticky dough; this dough is very soft and loose.  Refrigerate finished dough in a small covered container or in a plastic wrap for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

For the filling, in a large bowl combine all ingredients except for butter and apples.

Peel and slice the apples. Stir the apples thoroughly into the dry ingredients to coat all of the apple slices.  Let mixture sit for 15-30 minutes to develop a juice while you roll out the crust.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Take about two-thirds of refrigerated dough out and keep the rest chilled.  Lightly flour a clean work surface and roll out dough about 13 inches in diameter.  Carefully adjust the crust to fit a 10-inch deep-dish pie pan and trim edges.  Take the remaining dough and roll about 11 inches in diameter.

Add filling to crust in dish and place butter slices all over the top of filling.  Add the upper crust, roll the edges over the bottom crust and flute edges as desired.  Cut a few steam slits in a design of your choice.  You may also want to brush an egg wash (egg whites whisked with a bit of cold water) to the top to make for a shiny crust.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes and then reduce to 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes.

If the edges start to brown too quickly, cover with foil.  Remove from the oven and cool for at least 2 hours before slicing.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa

Another healthy, but oh-so-tasty hit!  I made this for dinner tonight and Abe loved it so much that he ate his portion and the portion I had made for his lunch tomorrow.

A simple marinade brightens this chicken up and the salsa adds tons of flavor.  It's done in a flash.  If you don't have a grill pan, you can either grill outdoors or use a skillet.  I love the grill pan, though, because it adds lovely grill marks.

Each serving clocks in at 289 calories and 13 grams of fat.

I got this recipe from Cooking Light. I served it with saffron rice and roasted pepper and broccoli. 

Cilantro-Lime Chicken with Avocado Salsa
Serves 4

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cooking spray

1 cup chopped plum tomatoes (about 2)
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 avocado, peeled and finely chopped

1.  To prepare chicken, combine first 4 ingredients in a large bowl; toss and let stand 3 minutes (or even longer, if you have the time); discard marinade.  Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt.  Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add chicken to pan; cook 6 minutes on each side or until done.

2.  To prepare salsa, combine tomato and next 4 ingredients (through pepper) in a medium bowl.  Add avocado; stir gently to combine.   Serve salsa over chicken.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Salmon with Maple-Lemon Glaze

I made this for Abe's dinner tonight and he declared it the best fish I had ever made.  I'll take that compliment!

So easy and healthy.  Each serving only has 287 calories and 14 grams of fat.  It has a whopping 31 grams of protein!

It only has 4 ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes to make.  Perfect for a busy weekday, but good enough to serve to dinner guests.

The recipe calls for broiling it in an ovenproof skillet, but if you don't  have one, just sear in skillet and then transfer the fish to an oven-safe dish to broil.  Fish will have browned a bit on top when it's done.

I got this from Cooking Light.  Serve with roasted potato wedges and green peas.

Salmon with Maple-Lemon Glaze
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cooking spray

1. Preheat broiler

2. Combine first 4 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add fish to bag; seal.  Refrigerate 10 minutes, turning bag once.

3. Remove fish from bag, reserving marinade.  Place marinade in a microwave-safe bowl.  Microwave at high for 1 minute.

4. Heat a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle fish evenly with salt and pepper.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add fish to pan; cook 3 minutes.  Turn fish over.  Brush marinade evenly over fish. Cook 3 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork for desired degree of doneness. 


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Asian Salmon

This fish dish is easy and tasty.   Nothing else needs to be said!

I got it from

Asian Salmon
Serves 4

1 pound salmon filets, with skin
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-1/2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 pinch ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced onion
1-1/2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 cup long-grain white rice
1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 cups water

1. Make several shallow slashes in the skinless side of the salmon filets. Place filets skin-side down in a glass baking dish. In a medium bowl, whisk together the olive oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, pepper, onion and sesame oil. Pour the liquid over the salmon, cover and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a medium saucepan combine the rice, water and dill weed. Bring to a boil, then cook over medium low heat until rice is tender and water has been absorbed, about 20 minutes. 

3. Remove cover from salmon, and bake in the marinating dish for about 30 minutes, or until fish can be flaked with a fork. Serve salmon over the rice, and pour sauce over.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Caramel Apple Pork Chops

A friend, who is a self-proclaimed cooking newbie, asked if I could add some recipes that were more on the simple and easy-to-make side.  While I thought that's what I had been doing, I can see where some of the ingredient lists can be a wee bit intimating (I do admit to adding the phrase "and this ingredient can be found at your local specialty shop" more than once).

So, in honor of my friend Aubri, I hereby proclaim a new category of recipe: Aubri-Easy.  Or should I call it Aubreasy?  Whatever it is called, it means simple ingredients, simple instructions, fabulous taste.

Hope you enjoy your first one, Aubri!

I got this from and adapted it a bit.  Jimi loves it and requests it all of the time.  It's sweet and savory at the same time.  So good on a fall day.  I like to serve it with roasted vegetables and seasoned rice.

Caramel Apple Pork Chops
Serves 4

4 (3/4 inch) thick pork chops
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
4 tablespoons brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium tart apples - peeled, cored and sliced
3 tablespoons pecans (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2.  In a small bowl, combine brown sugar, salt and pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Add butter to a skillet and stir in brown sugar mixture and apples.  Simmer on medium heat until apples are tender.  Remove from heat.

3.  Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add chops and sear until golden brown on both sides (about 5 minutes).  Transfer pork chops to a baking dish and pour apple mixture over chops.

4. Bake, covered,  until done, about 30-45 minutes. Sprinkle with pecans.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Caribbean Jerked Chicken

This sauce name always brings out the middle schooler in me.... I can't help but giggle that the chicken is being a jerk.  I know, lame.

Another fav of Abe's.  He's getting it for dinner this Wednesday, in fact.  Very easy to make and delicious!  You can make this recipe with pork and beef, too.  I know the recipe calls for chicken thighs, but I've made it with chicken breasts, too.  Just make sure they are the thick ones (if using boneless breasts, I'd cut the cook time down to 4 to 5 hours).

Don't worry if you don't have a wire rack that fits your slow cooker.  I don't, so I just put the chicken in the cooker after spraying it a bit with Pam.

Serve with long-grained rice seasoned with chopped green onions and toasted almonds, along with a green salad with slices of papaya.

I got this from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes.

Caribbean Jerked Chicken
Serves 4
Cooker: Medium or large round or oval
Setting and cook time: LOW for 5 to 6 hours

1/2 cup sliced green onions (white part and some of the green; about 12)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 jalapenos, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch of red pepper flakes
1 to 2 cloves garlic, to your taste, pressed
2 tablespoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
4 bone-in chicken thighs, with skin on and 4 drumsticks

1. In a food processor, combine the green onions, ginger, allspice, cinnamon, oil, jalapenos, black pepper, salt, red pepper flakes and garlic and process until very finely chopped, almost smooth.  Stir in the brown sugar, vinegar, orange juice and the Worcestershire sauce to form a paste.  Using a brush, apply the jerk sauce so it completely coats the chicken; use up all of the sauce.

2.  Put a wire rack in the slow cooker.  Place the chicken on the rack.  Cover and cook on LOW until the chicken is tender and cooked through, 5 to 6 hours.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce

I found this recipe while playing with a relative's IPhone.  He knew that I loved to cook and was showing me how you can look up recipes with one of his applications.  That phone is so damn cool....

I've been wanting to try panko breadcrumbs, which are Japanese and make for a lighter and crunchier crust. If you lay the chicken on a baking rack before putting it into the oil, the breadcrumb crust will stay more on the chicken and less stick to the pan.

I got this from via the IPhone.

Panko-Crusted Chicken with Mustard-Maple Pan Sauce
Serves 2

2 8-ounce skinless boneless chicken breast halves, cut crosswise in half
1 large egg
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup low-salt chicken broth
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon coarse-grained mustard
1 tablespoon chilled unsalted butter

1. Using meat mallet or rolling pin, pound chicken in resealable plastic bag to 1/3-to 1/2-inch thickness. Whisk egg, parsley, and 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard in large bowl. Place chicken in egg mixture; turn to coat.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Dip each chicken piece in panko; turn to coat. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook until brown and cooked through, about
4 minutes per side.

2. Meanwhile, whisk broth, syrup, coarse-grained mustard, and remaining 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard in glass measuring cup. Transfer chicken to plates. Add broth mixture to skillet; boil until reduced to 3/4 cup, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add butter; whisk until melted. Spoon sauce alongside chicken.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chinese Sweet-and-Sour Chicken with Sesame Seeds

This is one of Jimi's go-to recipes when he gets to choose dinner.  How often do you come home to homemade Chinese food waiting for you?  Now you can with this easy recipe since it's made in the crock pot.

The recipe calls for a whole fryer chicken, but I just make it with 3-4 large chicken breasts since that's what I have on hand.  The sesame seeds can be found already toasted in the spice section.

Serve with rice and Asian broccoli. 

I got this out of Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes.

Chinese Sweet-and-Sour Chicken with Sesame Seeds
Serves 4-6

One 3 to 4 pound broiler/fryer (or 3-4 large chicken breasts)
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dry sherry or apple juice
1 tablespoon ketchup
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 green onions, trimmed and halved
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1  tablespoon water
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet over medium heat until fragrant

1. Wash and dry chicken thoroughly.  Trim off fat.  Put chicken in the cooker, breast side up.  Combine the soy sauce, brown sugar, water, sherry, ketchup, red pepper flakes, green onions and garlic in a small bowl; pour over the chicken.  Cover and cook on HIGH until an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion of the thigh reads 180 degrees, 3 1/4 to 4 hours.

2.  Transfer the chicken to a platter.  Remove and discard the green onions.  Combine the corn starch and water and stir the slurry into the sauce.  Cook on HIGH until thickened.  Spoon the sauce over the chicken, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and serve.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pork Chops with Tomato Sauce and Mushrooms

I made this for Abe's dinner tonight and while he was initially hesitant, he ended up really enjoying it. It's very easy, just brown the meat and toss everything in the slow cooker.  It made the house smell so good when I came home from work- and that's from a vegetarian!

I served it with green salad.  I will add a side dish of rice next time to round out the meal.

I got this from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes.

Pork Chops with Tomato Sauce and Mushrooms

Serves 4
Cooker: Medium oval or large round or oval

4 thick bone-in pork chops, at least 1 inch thick, blotted dry
8 ounce mushrooms, sliced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into rings or strips
1 clove garlic, minced
Two 8-ounce cans tomato sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water

1. In a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pork chops on both sides.

2. In the slow cooker, combine the mushrooms, onion, bell pepper and garlic.  Nestle the pork chops on top.

3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the tomato sauce, vinegar, parsley, oregano, basil and salt.  Pour over the chops.  Cover and cook on LOW until the meat is tender, 6 to 8 hours.

4.  Transfer the pork to a platter and tent with aluminum foil to keep warm.  Transfer the tomato sauce to a medium-size saucepan.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth, and stir the slurry into the sauce.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.  Serve the sauce over the pork chops.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chipotle-Black Bean Chili

Cool Fall weather just begs for warm comfort food, like chili.  This recipe is new for us, but it was a hit from first bite.  It's a spicy chili, so if you're a wimp... I mean, don't like spice.... maybe cut it down to 1 jalapeno.

I served it with jalapeno corn bread muffins.  Yum!

I got this from my The Big Book of Vegetarian

Chipotle-Black Bean Chili

Serve 4 to 6

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, diced
2 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
One 14- ounce can Mexican-style diced or stewed tomatoes
Two 16-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh or frozen corn (no need to defrost if frozen)
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a large pot over medium heat, warm the oil.  Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables being to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the spices, tomatoes and beans and simmer for 15 minutes.  Stir in the corn and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in cilantro and serve.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Maple Glaze Roast Pork Tenderloin

This is so simple and both Abe and Jimi love it.  They gobble it up!

Watch the cloves.  If you accidentally add more, it will not be tasty.  Don't skimp on it though.  Use real maple syrup, not the fake stuff (use the rest on your pancakes; so much tastier than the fake stuff!)

The great thing about the recipe is it's tasty and low in fat/calories.  It's only 230 calories and 9 grams of fat (2.5 grams saturated) per serving.

I got this recipe from Light Recipes- Cook's Illustrated.

Maple Glaze Roast Pork Tenderloin

Serves 4

2 (12-ounce) pork tenderloin, silver skin removed
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Maple Glaze:

10 tablespoons maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1.  Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Pat tenderloins dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown tenderloins on all sides, reducing heat if fat begins smoking, about 10 minutes.  Transfer tenderloins to 13 by 9-inch baking dish.

3.  Pour off fat left in skillet.  Add all glaze ingredients to skillet, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until slightly thickened and fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Brush glaze over tenderloins.

4.  Roast tenderloins until thickest part registers 135 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 10 to 15 minutes, flipping the tenderloins halfway through roasting time.

5.  Transfer tenderloins to carving board, cover with foil and let rest until pork reaches internal temperature of 145 to 150 degrees, 5 to 10 minutes, before slicing into 1/4 inch-thick pieces.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Spicy Gumbo

This is the dish I make when Abe's having the guys over for football or some other sporting event. It's super flavorful and a crowd pleaser.

It makes a lot, so if it's just for dinner, I'd cut it half; although the leftovers are great the next day (and the day after...). I've also had success freezing the leftovers, but only after the shrimp was taken out.

Cajun seasoning can be found in the grocery store, but make sure you get a brand that doesn't have a lot of salt in it.

A roux is a mixture of fat and flour and it adds a lot of flavor to the dish. Make sure you spend the time browning it, making sure to constantly stir it so it won't burn. It may take longer than I listed(it also has taken less time, it all depends on the day). The color should be close to coffee with cream.

If I'm feeling lazy (and there's a good chance of that), I don't bother with the roma tomatoes and maybe will throw in an addition can of plain diced tomatoes.

Serve with rice and corn bread.

I got the recipe from and adapted it a bit.

Boudreaux's Zydeco Stomp Gumbo
Serves 10

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup skinless, boneless chicken breast halves- chopped
1/2 pound pork sausage links, thinly sliced (I use andouille).
1 cup olive oil
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons minced garlic
5 cups chicken broth
1 (12 ounce) can or bottle beer
6 stalks celery, diced
4 roma tomatoes, diced
1 sweet onion, sliced
1 (10 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, with liquid
2 tablespoons chopped fresh red chile peppers
1 bunch fresh parsley
1/2 cup frozen okra, thawed
1/4 cup Cajun seasonings (make sure it's salt-free)
1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat and cook chicken until no longer pink and juices run clear. Stir in sausage and cook until evenly browned. Drain chicken and sausage and set aside.

2. In a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat, blend olive oil and flour to combine a roux. Stir constantly until browned and bubbly (about 10-15 minutes). Mix in garlic and cook about 1 minute.

3. Gradually stir chicken broth and beer into the roux mixture. Bring to a boil and mix in celery, tomatoes, sweet onion, diced tomatoes with green chile peppers, red chile peppers, parsley, okra and Cajun seasoning. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring often.

4. Mix chicken and sausage into the broth mixture and cook an additional 20 minutes. Add shrimp for the final 10 minutes.

Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions (Mujadarrah)

This is what we are having for dinner tonight. It's a classic Arabic comfort food and is so simple, yet so good. Don't be turned off by the lack of ingredients; its beauty is in its simplicity.

The dish gets a lot of its flavor from the onions being caramelized, so don't worry about cooking them too long. You want them dark and almost burnt. The yogurt topping is a must, too. The Arabic yogurt has an extra tang to it and can be found in Middle Eastern markets, but plain yogurt can be used just as easily.

Some people add a bouillon cube to the pot, but I never do. If you worry that it might be too bland by the description, go ahead and add a veggie or chicken one, but traditionalists would shake their heads.

This recipe will make plenty, and leftovers taste even better the next day for lunch!

Lentils and Rice (Mujadarrah)
Served 4

6 tablespoon olive oil
2-3 large white onions, sliced into rings
1 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
1 cup uncooked white long-grain rice
One healthy pinch of ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup or more leban (Arabic yogurt) or plain yogurt

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onions and cook until they are very brown and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

2. Place lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 15 minutes, making sure the water doesn't cook out.

3. Stir rice and enough water to cover into the saucepan of lentils. Season with salt, pepper and cumin. Cover saucepan, reduce heat to low, and continue to simmer 15-20 minutes until rice and lentils are tender. If water cooks out before rice is done, just add a little more.

4. Mix half the onions into the lentil mixture. Top with yogurt and remaining onions to serve.

Spinach Lasagna

A simple, yet satisfying meal that can be made ahead of time and frozen. This is my go-to recipe when I'm making a meal for one of the ladies in my playgroup that just had a baby.

Even though he swore he wouldn't like it because of the spinach, Jimi actually likes it and has requested it. It's a tasty way to sneak in some veggies into your kid.

Spinach Lasagna
Serves 12

20 lasagna noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
1 chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups fresh spinach
3 cups ricotta cheese
2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 egg
3 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
3 cups tomato pasta sauce, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add lasagna noodles and cook for 8-10 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. In a skillet over medium-high heat, cook mushrooms, onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are tender. Drain excess liquid and cool.

4. Combine ricotta, Romano, spinach, salt, oregano, basil, pepper and egg in a bowl. Add cooled mushroom mixture. Beat with a fork until well blended. Spread a bit of pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish and then lay 5 noodles in the bottom. Spread 2 cups of cheese mixture over noodles. Layer some of spinach, along with 1 cup of mozzarella and 1/3 cup parmesan on top. Spread 1 cup spaghetti sauce over the cheese. Repeat layering 2 times.

5. Cover dish with aluminum foil and bake in a preheated oven for 1 hour. Cool 15 minutes before serving.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Broccoli and Cheese Calzones

I made this for dinner tonight and it was shockingly easy and delicious!  I took less than 30 minutes from fridge to table, perfect for a worknight.

This is sort of a "grown up" calzone with the Gorgonzola and broccoli.  Abe and I decided that this recipe can be mixed up so many different ways.... Italian, with salami and mozzeralla, Mexican with chedder, jalapenos and cilantro... the possibilities are endless.

I made the recipe as is, but did add some chopped sun-dried tomatoes, which I think made it even better.

I got this out of my The Big Book of Vegetarian cookbook.


Broccoli and Cheese Calzones

One 10-ounce package frozen chopped broccoli, thawed, drained and squeezed dry
3 green onions (white and light green parts), chopped
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/2 cup crumbled Gorgonzola or other blue cheese
1 cup packed grated fontina cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Flour for sprinkling
One 10-ounce tube refrigerated pizza dough

1. Preheat oven to 425.  In a medium bowl, mix the broccoli, green onions, ricotta, Gorgonzola and fontina.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

2. Sprinkle a large baking sheet with flour.  Unfold the dough on the prepared baking sheet. Gently stretch and/or roll the dough to an 11-inch square; cut the dough in half diagonally, forming 2 triangles.  Place half of the filling in the center of each triangle.  Fold one side of each triangle over the filling, forming 2 triangular calzones.  Press the edges of the dough to seal.  Cut 3 slits in the top of each to allow steam to escape.

3. Bake the calzones for about 15 minutes, until golden brown.  Serve hot.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Another old standby.... I can count on this recipe when I'm stumped about what to make. It's hearty and flavorful, filled with fiber and protein. It's also cholesterol-free!

This can be made as is or spiced up even more. Personally, we love spicy food in this family, so I fire it up by adding a spoonful of Indian red curry paste. But it's just as tasty as is.

Red lentils are sometimes called Indian dals. They aren't too hard to find, especially at Indian or Middle Eastern markets. I've seen them sometimes in the international section of grocery stores. Green lentils could be used in a pinch, but the red lentils really make the recipe unique.

The garam masala is a very special Indian spice mixture that is necessary for the dish. This can also be found at most Indian markets or sometimes the gourmet section of grocery stores.

Don't feel tied to the exact amounts and types of beans in the recipe; I unusually just throw in whatever I have in my pantry. I'd stick to the "white" beans, though.

Serve with warm pita.

I got this recipe off of and added some modifications.

Moroccan Lentil Soup
Serves 6

2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (don't use dried)
6 cups water or veggie broth
1 cup red lentils
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 19-ounce cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 large yukon potato, diced (or any type of potatoes you have on hand)
2 teaspoon garam masala
3/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (add red curry paste for added spice)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt to taste (start with 1 teaspoon)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 bunch cilantro, sliced thin crosswise (optional)

1. In a large pot, sauté the onions, garlic and ginger in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes.

2. Add water or broth, lentils, chick peas, white kidney beans, tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery, garam masala, cardamom, cayenne pepper and cumin. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, and then simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or longer, until lentils are soft.

3. Puree half the soup in a food processor or blender and stir into soup (optional step).

4. Top with cilantro (optional).

Chicken Souvlaki Gyro Style

This is a dish that Jimi requests quite frequently. He especially loves the sauce and always asks me to save the leftovers so he can dip pretzels in it.

I have found thick Greek bread at my local markets, which really adds to the flavor and authenticity of the dish, but if you can't find them, regular pitas will do.

I make mine vegetarian by using cut up pieces of vegetarian chicken patties. With this yummy sauce, anything will taste good!

The recipe calls for grilling the chicken, but it can be pan fried too.

I've just started buying the thick Greek plain yogurt that stores seem to be carrying now, and I think it would make a good and healthy replacement for the yogurt/sour cream combo in the recipe.

I got this recipe from


Chicken Souvlaki Gyro Style

Serves 4

Souvlaki Marinade:
3/4 cup balsamic vinaigrette
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Tzatziki Sauce (cucumber sauce):
1/2 cup seeded, shredded cucumber
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced (if you're a garlic lover, feel free to use more)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill, or 2 teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon Greek seasoning (found in the spice section of grocery store)
Kosher salt and pepper to taste

4 large pita bread rounds (or Greek bread)
1 heart of romaine lettuce, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, halved and sliced
1/2 kalamata olives
1/2 pepperoncini
1 cup crumbled feta cheese


1. In a small bowl, mix the balsamic vinaigrette, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, oregano and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Place chicken in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over chicken, seal and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

2. Preheat grill for high heat.

3. Toss the shredded cucumber with 1 tablespoon kosher salt and allow to sit for at least 5 minutes. In a medium bowl, mix the yogurt, sour cream, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, rice vinegar and olive oil. Season with garlic, dill and Greek seasoning. Squeeze the cucumber to remove any excess water; stir into sauce. Season to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

4. Remove chicken from marinade and place on preheated grill (or oiled pan). Discard excess marinade. Cook chicken until juices run clear, about 8 minutes on each side. Remove chicken from heat and allow to sit about 10 minutes before slicing into thin strips.

5. Place pita rounds on the grill (or pan) and cook for about 2 minutes until warm, turning frequently to avoid burning. Arrange warmed pita, sliced chicken, lettuce, onion, tomatoes, olives and pepperoncini on a serving platter. Serve tzatziki sauce and feta cheese in separate bowls on the side. Stuff pita pockets with chicken and toppings to serve.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Fattoush Salad

As requested, I'm posting one of my favorite Arabic recipes- fattoush salad.  It's a refreshing and healthy salad that I could eat every day. 

The ingredients come together very quickly and the dressing can be made ahead of time (and you can make extra to serve another day).  The sumac is a unique spice that is crucial for authentic taste.  It can be found in any spice shop or Middle Eastern market.  The pita chips that you can buy in a bag can be used to replace the pita in the recipe.

If you want to make this salad without the lettuce, just add more of the veggies and make them a larger dice.  This salad is called a Village Salad and usually has feta added.  The fattoush also tastes fabulous with feta crumbled into it.  Chicken can also be added to really make it a meal.

I got this recipe from  Enjoy!

Fattoush Salad
Serves 6

2 cups of shredded lettuce (romaine and/or iceberg)
1 large or 2 small cucumbers, small dice
2 medium tomatoes,chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley, leaves only, no stems
1/4 cup chopped mint, no stems (2 tablespoon dried mint can be used, but fresh tastes best)
1/2 to 1 green pepper, diced
1 bunch green onions, finely sliced
1/2 teaspoon sumac
2 pieces pita bread, toasted until golden brown, broken into pieces the size of quarters

1/2 cup lemon juice 
1/2 olive oil
2 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon salt
Pinch of pepper

In a small bowl, mix dressing ingredients together.

Put salad ingredients in large bowl and toss with 1/2 to 1 cup of dressing.  Top with pita pieces and serve immediately.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup

This is one of our favorite soups.  It's not a creamy mushroom soup, nor a thick potato soup.  It's a simply delicious broth that has mushrooms and potatoes in.  Abe raves every time I make it, so it's made at least monthly, especially when mushrooms are on sale.

I've made it without the potatoes when I've realized too late that I don't have any, but it's really better with them.  If you can, make sure to use the leeks.  Onions can do in a pinch, but the flavor of the leeks really make it tasty.

Serve this up with a nice green salad and french bread.

I got this recipe off of

Russian Mushroom and Potato Soup

Makes 12 servings (seems like a lot, but it is good for lunch the next day)

5 tablespoons butter, divided
2 leeks, chopped
2 large carrots, sliced
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 teaspoon dried dill weed
2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
2 pound potatoes, peeled and diced (when I'm lazy, I don't peel them)
1 pound fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 cup half and half (I've also used skim milk or a combo of milk-half and half to save on calories)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Fresh dill weed, for garnish (optional)

1. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Mix in leeks and carrots and cook 5 minutes.  Pour in broth.  Season with dill, salt, pepper and bay leaf.  Mix in potatoes, cover and cook 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender but firm.  Remove and discard bay leaf.

2.  Melt remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat, and saute the mushrooms 5 minutes, until lightly browned.  Stir into soup.

3. In a small bowl, mix the half-and-half and flour until smooth.  Stir into the soup to thicken.  Garnish each bowl of soup with fresh dill to serve.

Baby Beef Stew Classico

This is what's on the menu for Abe tonight.  I've made it before and he loves it.   He liked it so much that he asked me to make it for family before.

It's a very classic beef stew, a real comfort food.  You can add which ever veggies you like, but the ones in the recipe are spot on.  It's simple to make and basically foolproof.

I got this from my Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two by Beth Hensperger.

Baby Beef Stew Classico

Serves 2

Cooker: 1 1/2 to 3 quart
Setting: High for 4-5 hours. or Low for 7-8 hours; peas added during last 30 minutes

1 lb. lean, boneless chuck roast, trimmed of fat and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground white or black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1/4 lb. baby carrots
1 small parsnip, peeled and diced
6 ounces baby red potatoes, halved or quartered
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme or marjoram
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup frozen petit peas, thawed

1. Sprinkle the cubes of beef with some salt and pepper.  In a medium-size saute pan over medium heat, heat the oil until very hot.  Add the meat cubes and brown on all sides, 4-5 minutes.

2. Spray the crock with nonstick cooking spray and add the onion, carrots, parsnip and potatoes.  Add the meat, broth, wine, tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes and thyme; mix well.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 to 5 hours (or LOW for 7 to 8 hours), until the meat is fork-tender.

3. When there is about 30 minutes of cooking time left, knead the butter and flour together in a small bowl with a fork.  Add the butter-flour ball (known as a beurre manie) to the crock and stir until melted.  Add the peas to the crock.  Cover and cook another 30 minutes.  Season to taste and serve hot.

Where Recipes Call Home

I'm realizing more and more that I'm just a digital person, so a traditional recipe book just won't cut it.  I spend too much time looking for recipes, scattered between recipe books, print off, and those collected in my favorite places on my computer.  If I wanted to share one, I had to take the time to type it out or link it to an email.

Now, I will post my favorites.... well, I should say my husband Abe's favorites... since many aren't vegetarian friendly, so I've never actually tried them.  But I have my favorite recipe tester to tell me if they are blog-worthy or not.

My other recipe tester, our boy Jimi, will give me the "kids-friendly" angle.  And he doesn't hold back.  There's no mistaking the face of disgust he makes when something doesn't pass the muster.

My future recipe tester, our baby Adam, has just ventured into the wonderful world of food, so he will be contributing to my baby-toddler food recipes soon.

I'm not a cook, so none of these are my own creation.  These all come from somewhere else and will be credited.

So, I hope you try a few of these and come back to let me know what you think!