Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Confetti Soup or, How to Use up Thanksgiving leftovers

Despite the fact that there were only three of us for Thanksgiving this year, my kitchen pal and I still managed to cook up a storm! And thankfully I love leftovers. But almost a week after Thanksgiving, I was getting a little bored with eating turkey and stuffing, and most of the other dishes were already finished off. Plus, I will be honest and say I was scared to look into my fridge and pantry for fear of all the odds and ends that were left over. Things like that half a head of cauliflower since I halved my cauliflower dish, or the half a leek, or the all the potatoes and sweet potatoes because I bought too many, or the heavy cream carton which was too big but a smaller size would have been to small, you get the idea.

My advice to anyone who has lots of odds and ends: make a list. I have a white board in the kitchen and I wrote down everything perishable and then starred the most important items to use right away. I don't know why--perhaps its because I read so many recipes--but something about seeing the names of all the items in my fridge is just what I need for inspiration. It's like solving a math problem, but without those darned numbers! After staring for a few moments, an idea started emerging. Then it hit me like an epiphany: soup! A ton of these things I have leftover could be used to make soup! And if you know me well, you know I am totally in love with soup.

So without any further ado, here is my Thanksgiving leftover soup. Every ingredient was either a odd, and end, or a little something from the pantry. It's a little random, I confess, but its and honest to goodness reflection of the variety in my kitchen!

Confetti Soup


handful each green split peas and yellow split peas
half head of cauliflower
2 medium potatoes
1 medium sweet potato
1 carrot
half can of water chestnuts (yes, Kira, I even used your water chestnuts)
2 inch piece of Spanish chorizo, finely diced (trust me, a little goes a long way)
diced leftover turkey, your choice on the amount (dark meat)
chicken broth and water to cover everything so far
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 leak (white part only), thinly sliced
1 clove garlic (in retrospect may have doubled)
fresh parsley, rosemary, sage finely chopped, to taste
thyme (would have used fresh if I had it)
salt and pepper to taste
heavy cream (optional)

1. Start by simmering the peas in chicken broth and water for about 10 minutes. Then add the cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrot, water chestnuts, chorizo, and turkey. Add more liquid if necessary to cover vegetables. Simmer covered for 15 minutes or until the peas are done.
2. Meanwhile, saute the onions and leeks in olive oil over medium low heat until caramelized (about 20 minutes). Then add the herbs and garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds more and turn off heat.
3. When the vegetable/meat mixture is done, stir in the onion/herb mixture. Add a little heavy cream if you like to add a touch of richness and sweetness.

This ended up making a rather large pot of soup. And the good news is it tastes delicious!

The best thing I learned from this is that sweet potatoes and chorizo go beautifully together! There's something about the richness and spicyness of the chorizo that play just right against the earthy yet sweet qualities of the sweet potato. Now I'll have to think about other ways to combine the two. :)

Monday, November 23, 2009

Couscous lunch

Stop reading this and go buy some organic whole wheat couscous right now!


All right, I assume you're back with the couscous in hand now. Now you can experience the amazing speed and deliciousness of this amazingly fast and delicious product! If you're not familiar with couscous, they are tender minuscule balls of wheat joy. All you do is boil some liquid, add the couscous, cover, and turn off the heat. Five minutes later and it's ready! Now that's fast!

And because this post wouldn't be complete without a recipe, here's what I just made for lunch with it:

Part 1: make couscous (subbing stock if you have any; I used free range chicken broth)
Part 2:
Saute in some butter 1 small thinly sliced onion and 1 julienned carrot.
Stir in a couple/few handfuls of spinach and a small handful of sprouts. After spinach welts a bit, turn off heat.
Top with Rogan Josh seasoning (or similar blend), golden raisins, toasted pine nuts (can easily sub another nut), and grated Parmesan cheese.
Part 3: Mix together the couscous and veggie mixture and devour!


Sorry, I just couldn't resist typing up one of my sudden kitchen inspirations, sloppy and all. :)

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Ralph's Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies

Now that we've featured a recipe that my mom created, it's time to celebrate one from Lynn, my mother-in-law. But first it requires a little background on the father-in-law, Ralph.

Ralph loves a good oatmeal. And what, might you ask, is a good oatmeal? I must say mine goes something like apples, cinnamon, honey, walnuts, and milk. Fairly conventional. But Ralph's oatmeal is the most unique kind I've heard of. Not to sweet, full of healthy nuts and seeds, and entirely his own.

So his wife decided to try creating a cookie that had all the elements of his oatmeal. And the result is not only unique but absolutely delicious! Featuring sunflower seeds, raisins, peanut butter, and flax seed, it's one you don't want to miss.

Ralph's Peanut Butter Oatmeal Cookies
(adapted from here)
Note: I'm not a fan of raisins, so I tried doing half with raisins and half with chocolate chips. To my amazement, not only did I like the version with raisins, but I thought it was significantly better! Go figure.

In a medium bowl, mix together:
2 cups quick cooking oatmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (reduce if using salted sunflower seeds)
2 Tbl ground flaxseed (optional but highly recommended)

In another bowl, mix at medium speed until smooth:
1 cup creamy peanut butter (both peanut only and the Skippy kind work)
3/4 cup butter

Beat in:
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar

Then beat in:
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Stir in the flour mixture, then add:
1-2 cups raisins
1/2 cup unsalted toasted sunflower seeds

Chill dough until it can be shaped into 1" balls (about 1-1/2 hours). When ready, shape into 1" balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet; flatten slightly with a wet fork. Bake at 325 degrees for 8-12 minutes, until very lightly browned.

Yield: 5 dozen

Lynn's notes: A 1" cookie scoop works really well for making the balls of dough. It doesn't even have to be too firm. Ground flaxseed and toasted sunflower seeds can be found for a good price at Trader Joe's stores. They are the only place I have found toasted unsalted sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Banana Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

This recipe comes courtesy of Martha Stewart herself. I found this on line the other day and decided to make the cookies as a welcome home treat for my co-worker who just returned from Greece. I am happy to report they received multiple stamps of approval!

- 1 cup(s) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup(s) whole-wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon(s) coarse salt
- 1/2 teaspoon(s) baking soda
- 3/4 cup(s) (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup(s) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup(s) packed light-brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup(s) (about 1 large) mashed ripe banana
- 1 cup(s) old-fashioned rolled oats
- 8 ounce(s) semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped into 1/4-inch chunks
- 1/2 cup(s) (about 2 ounces) coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flours, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add egg and vanilla; mix until combined. Mix in banana. Add flour mixture; mix until just combined. Stir in oats, chocolate chunks, and walnuts.

Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing about 2 inches apart. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until golden brown and just set, 12 to 13 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire racks; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers up to 2 days.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

What my mom made for dinner

My mom is my inspiration for cooking and baking! Growing up, as busy as she was as a single mom raising two kids and often working multiple jobs, she still managed to make dinner almost every night. Not to mention her amazing baking around Christmas time! I should write up another post on that sometime. :) Even though my brother and I could be picky, she did her best to introduce us to whole grains (it took until recently to like them), vegetables, fruits (these I had no trouble liking, especially when it was something from the backyard!), and unsweetened cereal (well she tried, but I sneaked sugar onto it anyway). But I thank her for her hard work and giving a solid foundation!

So today I'd like to feature a dish that she just created. I'm not sure what to call it, "Mom's curried chickpea dish"? Or the not very descriptive but accurate "What I made for dinner" which is what she said upon first telling me about it. Well, whatever the title, this is a tasty, healthful dish that is sure to please everyone!

"What I made for dinner" in my mom's words:

Prepare white or brown Jasmine rice or couscous with chicken or vegetable broth (I used low sodium chicken broth and didn't add additional salt)

Saute lightly in olive oil
-1 yellow squash sliced
-1 red bell pepper cut into strips
-1 small red onion chopped
-1 carrot cut into somewhat thin 2-inch strips

Add to veggies and stir:

-chili pepper flakes (I used about 1/2 tsp)
-kosher salt (1 used about 1/4 tsp)
-black pepper (I used about 1/4 tsp)
-curry (I used a mixture of yellow and red curry, started with 1/4 tsp, but added mo9re to taste)
-cinnamon (3 quick dashes)
-lemon juice (I started with 2 tablespoons then added more to taste)

Mix in rice or couscous (I used 2 cups of white jasmine loosely measured-don't pack into cup).
Mix in 1/2 can rinsed garbanzo beans.

Serve with feta cheese sprinkled on top.

Note: I think that fresh chopped cilantro added at the end would be a nice addition (but I didn't have any).

Love, Mom


Notes from my mom:

I made this recipe again using brown jasmine rice and black beans instead of garbanzo. It came out good except for the fact that I accidentally cooked the veggies too long which wasn't that great. Make sure that you do a quick stir fry only so that the onions are a bit soft but everything else is still crisp. Also, 1/4 tsp chili pepper flakes puts in on the spicier side. You might want to try less to start.

My notes:

Use the vegetable broth and skip the cheese to make this vegan.
I think I used more garbanzo beans (I started with the dry, so I can't say for sure), which I recommend.
Also good with brown basmati rice.


Molten Chocolate Cookies

One of the first things I just had to do in New York was find good chocolate chips. And by good, I mean at minimum no artificial flavors. Having a really really stellar flavor is a plus, but I wasn't about to shell out the exorbitant price for the Ghiradelli bars and chips are at my local market (the only brand of chocolate chips, I'm afraid to say, that didn't have artificial flavor)! Remember that story about the butter? Yeah, well, I didn't want to repeat that mistake with the chocolate.

This is where Fresh Direct came to my rescue! They delivered right to my door chocolate chips that were delicious, all natural, and a good price! The brand is Guittard, and I must say they were tasty. But best of all, I discovered an amazing recipe on the back of the bag. If you like chocolate, cookies, and molten cakes, you will love these! They also make great cookies for ice cream sandwiches on the second day. :)

Molten Chocolate Cookies

2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter (unsalted)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Melt the chips and butter in a double boiler or heat proof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water. You may also melt in microwave. Set aside.

Beat egg and sugar with an electric mixer. When light and fluffy, beat in a salt and vanilla. Gradually beat in the slightly cooled chocolate.

Stir the flour and baking powder together, then add to the egg mixture and stir until mixed. Batter won’t be stiff enough to use at this point.

Chill batter for about 20-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment.

Spoon batter by rounded tablespoonfuls (approx) and make mounds. Bake for 11-13 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for about 3 minutes, then transfer to rack to cool.

Best served warm. To reheat, microwave on high power 10 seconds per cookie.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Quote from the Kitchen

"No matter what happens in the kitchen, never apologize."
—Julia Child, in Fitch, Appetite for Life, p. 142

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Vegetable Tartlets (or Veggie Tart)

My kitchen partner and I made this a few weeks ago, and it was absolutely delicious! Make sure you allow 45 minutes to an hour to prepare the veggies and make the filling. (absolutely worth every minute) If you find yourself pressed for time and can't make the crust (or perhaps, you are crust challenged), the veggie filling would also taste great served with noodles or rice.

Chef's Note: We did not have mini tart pans so we substituted with one pan instead.

Serves 6
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup stone-ground yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup ice water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 red bell peppers, stems and seeds removed, cut into 1/4-inch strips
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 Italian eggplant, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, quartered
1 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Freshly ground pepper
2 cups coarsely chopped kale (8 ounces)
2 cups cherry tomatoes (about 1 pint)
1/3 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Pinch of red-pepper flakes
6 tablespoons nonfat ricotta cheese

Make the crust: Pulse flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Add butter; process until mixture resembles coarse meal. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream; process just until dough holds together. Divide dough in half, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate 1 hour (or up to 3 days).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 1/8 inch thick. Cut out six 9-inch rounds, gathering scraps and rerolling dough. Fit into 4 1/2-inch springform tart pans, and cut dough flush with tops. Place on a baking sheet, and refrigerate 30 minutes.

Make the filling: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bell peppers, and cook until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add zucchini, squash, eggplant, and onion; cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add wine and salt; season with pepper. Cook, stirring, until liquid has evaporated. Add kale, and cook until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in tomatoes, basil, and red-pepper flakes.

Spoon 1 1/4 cups vegetable mixture into each tart shell. Bake until crust is golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Top each tart with 1 tablespoon ricotta, and serve.

Recipe from Martha Stewart.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Crumble time!

Hello blog world! It's been a while! My life has been turned upside down by graduating from my masters and going on an extended "vacation" on the other side of the country while negotiating trying to get back to the right side of the country. Or something like that. Thus I have not had much chance to try new recipes much less make up any of my own. But that ends now! Tonight, after a frustrating, long search on google for a recipe that didn't exist (except in my mind), I decided to try my hand at creating my very own baked good. I specify baked good since I've never had a problem making up dinner entrees. But baking has always had that mysterious aura to it that scared me away from ever making something up. Substitutions? Yes. Additions or alterations? All the time! But no recipe at all? AH!

Surprisingly, I think I was actually successful. In fact, I think it was pretty darn good. I have to say I'm proud of myself, and hope you enjoy this recipe while the summer fruit season lasts.

Cherry Blueberry Almond Crumble


2 cups pitted cherries
2 cups blueberries
Juice of half a lemon
almond extract to taste (actually, I just used what was left in the bottle!)
1 tbl cornstarch
1/4 sugar (more if fruit is not very sweet)
1 stick butter (4oz), cut into small pieces and kept cold
4oz flour
2 oz white sugar
2 oz brown sugar (can do more white sugar if desired)
handful toasted, ground almonds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the berries, lemon juice, almond extract, a sprinkling of cinnamon, cornstarch, and sugar in a 8x8" pan (I used pyrex).
2. In a medium bowl, combine butter, flour, sugars, and almonds with fingers until butter is evenly distributed throughout. Alternatively, you can use a pastry blender, but honestly, fingers work just fine. :)
3. Spread crumble topping over the berry mixture evenly. Bake for 35 minutes, or until fruit is bubbling and the topping is a lightly golden.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Friday, May 22, 2009

Strawberry Ice Box Cake

Ah, summer. It's coming! And know what one of my favorite things in the summer is? Berries! Strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and all the unique I've-never-heard-of-that-berry that can be found at the local orchard. So to welcome in the season, here's a strawberry dessert!

This recipe has been passed down from my great grandmother. She used to make it for my mom when she was little. Yes, it does use raw egg, but if you're the type to sneak a little cookie dough before baking, then you should be fine. :)

Note: start ahead (must be refrigerated at least 3 hours)

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
3 tbl cream (can substitute milk)
1/2 nuts, chopped (I think almonds are probably best)
1 tsp vanilla
1 box strawberries, sliced
8 oz cool whip
8 oz vanilla wafers, crushed fine

1. Cream sugar and butter until light and creamy. Add egg, cream, nuts, and vanilla. Gently stir in berries. Fold in cool whip.
2. Place half the crumbs in an 8" or 9" square pan. Pour berry mixture over. Sprinkle remaining crumbs on top.
3. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Cut into squares and serve!

Yield: 8 servings.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Root Vegetable Shepherd's Pie

Last Saturday, I experienced my first weekend without school stress! In order to celebrate this momentous occasion, I decided to have some fun in the kitchen. After seeing a post on another blog and knowing I had some ground beef in the freezer, I thought shepherd's pie was worth a try. But I couldn't just do the normal, standard recipe, now could I? Besides, I really just don't like celery and carrots. And thus my solution: create my very own shepherd's pie remix based on root vegetables!

I started with parsnips, turnip, and brown (crimini) mushrooms. I highly recommend brown mushroom, so much more flavor!

Here they are being caramelized (except the mushrooms)...ah so fragrant!

Now I added the mushrooms and some herbs

Peter helped with the beef...I'm not a big fan of touching or getting near raw meat. What a silly face. :)

Here the veggies, beef, and gravy are getting acquainted.

Top it with mashed, seasoned potatoes, bake, and:

Voila! Cauliflower! Just kidding. More like a giant delicious potato topping!

So what was the result of my experiment? Good, but not amazing. But I think the lack of amazingness is easily remedied. First, cut the amount of parsnip in half, second, use more mushrooms, and third, season more heavily. I've adjusted the recipe accordingly. I am proud to say, however, that the potato topping came out quite nicely. :) One can also add more flavor by topping it with shredded cheese. And I suppose if you do like celery but want to stick with the root theme, you could try some celery root.

Let me know if you try it!


1 parsnip, cleaned and diced (no need to peel if scrubbed well)

1 turnip, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, diced

5 tbl butter

dried thyme, rosemary, nutmeg, salt, and pepper to taste (I sprinkle and smell)

1 lb ground beef

3-4 splashes Worcestershire sauce

3 tbl flour

1 3/4 cup beef broth (or less for a thicker gravy)

1 cup frozen peas

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook and caramelize parsnip, turnip, and onion in butter (about 10 min). Add mushrooms and seasonings, stir together for about 30 seconds, then turn off heat.

3. In another skillet, cook the beef; if there is a lot of fat leftover, partially drain. Do not drain completely. Add Worcestershire sauce and season with salt and pepper. While at medium heat, add the flour, stirring contantly, and cook a couple of minutes. Add peas and slowly pour in broth and bring to a simmer, stirring occaisionally. Simmer until thickened.

4. Combine veggie and meat mixture in a 2 quart casserole dish. Add mashed potato mixture (recipe below). Place on a baking sheet in case of spills and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until mashed potatoes nice and puffy with golden tips.

For the mashed potatoes:

Boil in salted water until fork tender 5-6 red potatoes, peeled and chopped. Drain, then transfer to a stand mixer. Beat with the paddle until smooth. Add 2 tbl cream, 2 tbl milk, 2 tbl butter, 1 egg, and salt and pepper. Cream together. Adjust liquid if necessary.

Yield: 6 servings

Friday, April 17, 2009

Stuffed Florentine Shells

This is a delicous Pampered Chef Recipe. It's meatless, and if you're like me and can't stomach melted cheese, you can easily make the stuffing with just the spinach, ricotta cheese, seasonings, and half and half.
  • 18 jumbo pasta shells (you can also substitute manicotti shells)
  • 1 container (15 ounces) part skim Ricotta
  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen spinach chopped, thawed, and drained and squeezed dry
  • 2 cups shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 3/4 cup half and half (divided)
  • 1 garlic clove pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 28 oz. jar of spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 350, cook pasta according to directions, drain, then drizzle with Olive oil so the shells don't stick.

Mix ricotta, spinach, 1&1/2 cups of Italian cheese, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, and 1/4 cup of half and half. Press in garlic and seasonings. Mix well. In another bowl whisk the rest of spaghetti sauce with remaining half and half. Pour some of sauce mix on bottom of cooking pan. Fill each shell with ricotta mixture (one scoop) I usually use my cookie dropper. Arrange filled shells in baking pan. Top with remaining spaghetti sauce. Cover with foil, bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil, top dish with remaining 1/2 cup of Italian cheese. Bake uncovered an additional 5 min. Let cool for 10 min. before serving.

I'm sorry to say I forgot to take pictures so you'll have to make do with a photoless post.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Pickled red onion 4 ways, part 3

I hope no one was waiting in anxious anticipation for the conclusion of my series on pickled red onions! It's been incredibly busy around here, what with having been working and going to school full time. But that story is for my other blog...

Here is part 3 of the amazing pickled red onion! Again, forgive my lack of precise ingredients. See this less as a recipe and more as a guide or an inspiration. Let me know if you try the pickled onion and what you do with it!

Escarole tuna wraps with pickled red onion and almonds

Make a filling with 1 can of tuna (preferably in oil), finely ground almonds, mayo, some pickling juice, and finely chopped pickled red onion. Scoop filling onto a large escarole leaf. Wrap it all together and there you have it!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ratatouille Lasagna

Hello everyone and happy spring! Today I created a ratatouille-ish version of lasagna. It is vegetarian, delicious, and based on my favorite lasagna recipe from my friend Karen M. The secret is the cottage cheese! I hope you enjoy it as much as Peter and I did!

8 oz. lasagna noodles
12 oz. part-skim mozzarella cheese
2 medium zucchini, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 1/2 cups cottage cheese
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (fresh if possible)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tbl parsley
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3 cups spaghetti sauce (I used Wegmans portabella mushroom)

1. Stir-fry zucchini and bell pepper in a bit of olive oil under crisp-tender. Season generously (I used Italian seasoning, salt, and red pepper. I wanted to imitate the kick of Italian sausage).
2. Mix together everything but lasagna noodles and mozzarella.
3. In a greased 9x13" dish, layer half the lasagna noodles, sauce mixture, and mozzarella. Repeat. No, you do not need to pre-cook the noodles, hurray!
4. Cook, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for 45-55 minutes.

Yield: 6-8 servings

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

While I haven't actually made this, a friend of mine did, and it was delicious!

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 can (20 ounces) pineapple slices, well drained
Maraschino cherries, drained and halved
Walnut halves

1 package DUNCAN HINES® Moist Deluxe® Pineapple Supreme Cake Mix
1 package (4-serving size) vanilla-flavor instant pudding and pie filling mix
4 eggs
1 cup water (*you can also substitute pineapple juice for a moister cake)
1/2 cup oil

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. For topping, melt butter over low heat in 12-inch cast-iron skillet or skillet with ovenproof handle. Remove from heat. Stir in brown sugar. Spread to cover bottom of skillet. Arrange pineapple slices, maraschino cherries and walnut halves in skillet. Set aside.
3. For cake, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water and oil in large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed with electric mixer for 2 minutes. Pour batter evenly over fruit in skillet. Bake at 350°F for 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Invert onto serving plate.

Tip Cake can be made in a 13×9×2-inch pan. Bake at 350°F for 45 to 55 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Cake is also delicious using Duncan Hines® Moist Deluxe® Classic Yellow Cake Mix.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Pickled red onion 4 ways, part 2

As much as I loved the escarole salad, I couldn't eat enough of it to use up all the pickled onion. When lunchtime came around the following day, I used it and some of the other leftovers hanging around to create this delightful sandwich! I did everything to taste, so sorry for the lack of precise measurements. You could also use leftover escarole instead of spinach leaves or some of the pickling juice instead of the red wine vinegar (if doing the latter, omit salt and pepper).

Red wine tuna sandwich with onion and spinach

1 5-6oz can tuna (they're so tricky these days with the tuna can sizes)
1 Tbl mayonnaise
paprika (to taste)
Red wine vinegar, tsp or so
salt and pepper to taste
Pickled onion slices
a handful of fresh spinach leaves
4 slices Italian bread (or bread of your choice)

Mix together tuna, mayonnaise, paprika, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper. Layer on one slice of bread, top with onions and spinach, and close with second slice. Repeat. Serve with fruit (I shared a grapefruit with Peter).

Yield: 2 servings

Friday, March 6, 2009

Pickled red onion 4 ways, part 1

Ladies and Gentleman, an historic event has occurred. I branched out beyond Caesar salad and made a new kind of salad!

I have many reasons for either not wanting or not caring to make interesting salads. First, taste and texture: I don't want lettuce and fruit together, I don't like strong cheeses, I don't like raw vegetables enough, and though I'm over it now I use to hate nuts in salads! Second, I don't like spending a lot of time on something that I eat only because "it's good for you." Just get it over and done with and spend my creative energies on the main dish (and dessert!). But on this historic day, all that changed!

I subscribe to a variety of food blogs with my hand-dandy google reader, where I found this amazing recipe from Smitten Kitchen. Here is my adapted version. The key is the pickled red onion. You will not be disappointed!

To make the pickled onion:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
2 to 3 shots hot sauce (I used Tapatio)
1 red onion, sliced into very thin rings (Pampered Chef mandolin came in handy here!)

Mix all ingredients together and store in fridge at least 1 hour. I made this the day before, storing it in the fridge overnight. Then I took some escarole (washed and torn into bite-sized pieces), pickled onion, a bit of the pickling juice, a couple splashes of extra-virgin olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese and tossed it all together. Walla, amazing salad!

Yield: as much (or little) as you like! :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

Filling, gluten free, inexpensive soup

In a recession, everyone is looking for ways to save money. This soup is an easy, filling, delicious, healthy, and even gluten free way to do so! The trick is using lentils, brown rice, and ground beef. This recipe was inspired by this soup. Feel free to add more vegetables; I thought sliced mushrooms might do nicely.

1 lb ground beef

1 onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tbl parsley

1 tsp thyme

½ tsp cumin

3 cups chicken broth

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

2/3 cup lentils

Half of a red bell pepper

1/4 cup frozen pees

½ cup brown rice

1. Cook onions and ground beef in stockpot. Add garlic at the end (only saute it a minute).

2. Add herbs, broth, lentils, and bell pepper and simmer for 1 hour or until lentils are soft.

3. Add brown rice and peas; simmer 40 more minutes, or until rice is done.

Yield: 4-6 servings

A new twist on baked potatoes

I love potatoes. They come in different shapes, colors, and you can do many tasty things with them. I have recently discovered my favorite method of making a baked potato. This method creates a crisp skin with a flaky, dryish (as apposed to steamy) center. If you like your potatoes steamy and soft, almost wet, then this method is not for you. :)

2 medium sized potatos (I used a red-skinned Yukon)
1/2 onion, sliced into thing rings
1 garlic clove
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Prick the potatoes with a fork and then microwave for 3 minutes. Turn over and cook another 3-5 minutes. Check periodically for done-ness with a fork (should be quite soft and the skin should be bubbly). When they are done, wrap in foil and let sit for a couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, caramelize onions in a bit of olive oil. Add garlic and salt at the end and saute for just a minute.

Open potato and top with onions and cheese. Yum!

Yield: 2 servings

Friday, January 9, 2009

Silky Chocolate Fondue

This is an easy and delicious recipe to make!

Silky Chocolate Fondue

6 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup caramel ice cream topping
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Assorted dippers such as strawberries, marshmallows, pound cake cubes or graham crackers

In small (2-qt.) saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a simmer over low heat. In double boiler, combine chocolate, ice cream topping and cream; mix well. Set double boiler over simmering water in saucepan. Heat chocolate mixture 7-10 minutes or until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally. **It time is of the essence, you may microwave the chocolate, caramel, and whipping cream.**

Pour chocolate mixture into Simple Additions™ Small Bowl. Serve fondue immediately with assorted dippers. Yield: 1 1/3 cups (10 servings)

For additional flavor and variety, stir 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of any one of the following into fondue: almond, mint or vanilla extract, ground cinnamon or finely snipped orange zest. Pampered Chef

Sampling of our dippers: strawberries, Famous Amos cookies, and pirouettes. Not pictured: strawberries, bananas, and shortbread cookies.

Olive & Roasted Pepper Bruschetta

We made this at our NYE party, and it got rave reviews!

Olive & Roasted Pepper Bruschetta

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1/2 cup chopped pitted green olives
1/2 cup chopped rosted sweet red peppers
2 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. dried basil
16 slives French bread baguette (1/2 in. thick) toasted

In a small bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Top each bread olive with 1 tbsp. olive mixture.