Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sneaking in some veggies
--Kielbasa Skillet With Rotini

Kielbasa Skillet With Rotini
Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes Copyright 2002

2 cups dried rotini or rotelle pasta (about 6 ounces) I used 12 ounces of whole wheat rotini
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound cooked kielbasa, halved lengthwise and sliced diagonally I used smoked turkey sausage
1 small zucchini, cut into matchstick-size strips
1 yellow or orange sweet pepper, cut into small strips I used orange and yellow
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper I misread this and used black pepper
8 roma tomatoes, cored and chopped (about 1 pound) I used too regular tomatoes
Fresh herbs (optional)

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a very large skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add kielbasa; cook until onion is tender, stirring frequently.
2. Add zucchini, sweet pepper, Italian seasoning, and ground red pepper; cook and stir for 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and cooked pasta. Heat through, stirring occasionally. If desired, garnish with fresh herbs.

Makes 6 servings: Per serving: 410 cal, 26 g fat, 0 mg chol, 714 mg sodium, 31 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 14 g protein

The best chance I have of getting my husband to eat vegetables is to sneak them into the main dish. Otherwise, he often just ignores vegetable side dishes. This recipe had plenty of veggies making it perfect for Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday.

I was pretty loosey-goosey with this recipe. I cooked down the vegetables for a while, really breaking up the tomatoes since my husband doesn't like fresh tomato very much. I went heavy on the vegetables and had plenty of 'sauce' to coat an entire box of pasta, twice as much as the the recipe called for. I almost always add more pasta.

I'm just treading water right now, getting ready for our cookout which happens to coincide with a huge heat wave. As long as it doesn't rain, I'm happy.

Today's the last day to enter the July cookbook giveaway. The winner may get to cook from that book before I do! I do have one recipe from the book on deck for later this week. I just couldn't get to it before the end of the month.

Blast From The Past: Brownies from last year's cookout. I didn't think these were all that great when I made them yet they disappeared in a flash.

Question of the Day: How often do you entertain?

Monday, July 30, 2007

More Dorie
--Orange Berry Muffins

Orange Berry Muffins
Baking From My Home To Yours Copyright 2006

Grated zest and juice of one orange
About ¾ cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons honey
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup blueberries – fresh, preferably, or frozen (not thawed)
Decorating sugar for topping (optional)

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or spray the 12 molds of a regular-size muffin tin or fit the molds with paper muffin cups.
Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

Pour the orange juice into a large glass measuring cup or a bowl and pour in enough buttermilk to make 1 cup. Whisk in the eggs, honey and melted butter.

In a large bowl, run the sugar and orange zest together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and the fragrance of orange is strong. Whisk in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and, with a whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – the batter will be lumpy and bubbly, and that’s just the way it should be. Stir in the blueberries. Divide the batter evenly among 12 muffin cups.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes. If you want to top the muffins with decorating sugar, sprinkle the sugar on after the muffins have baked for 10 minutes. When fully baked, the tops of the muffins will be golden and springy to the touch and a thin knife inserted in the center of the muffins will come out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 3 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from it’s mold.

Makes 12 muffins.

I froze some blueberries before leaving for vacation last week so I went hunting for a blueberry recipe. I really didn't want a muffin, coffee cake or pie recipe but you know, that doesn't leave much else! So I did settle for a muffin recipe but one with just a slight twist.

These smelled so good. I was able to get so much zest off of that one orange using my handy-dandy microplane that the orange flavor was nicely intense. I really liked the orange with the blueberries. I did get a little heavy handed with the blueberries which had consequences. The extra berries just sunk to the bottom. They would have been a little bit prettier inside if I had just used the one cup the recipe called for but I threw in about another half cup of them.

So far the weather looks good for my cookout on Saturday. Please, please let the forecast stay that way.

Blast From The Past: Big Chocolate Chip Cookies from July 2006. I was thinking about making cc cookies for my cookout. I love, love this recipe but I'm wondering if it's time to experiment again.

Question of the Day: What's the last new recipe you've tried?

Friday, July 27, 2007

I do like radishes!
--Sautéed Radishes

Sautéed Radishes
The Boston Cooking School Cook Book Copyright 1896, 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903, 1904, 1905, 1906, 1912, 1914, 1915, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1936

Peel (I didn't), slice, and cook in boiling, salted water 20 minutes. Drain and sauté in butter. I seasoned the radishes with salt and pepper.

I hope this recipe isn't too complicated for you LOL. I've never been a huge fan of radishes which are usually presented raw. I can eat them buried in a forkful of salad and sliced thinly with butter on bread (but what doesn't go well with a hunk of butter?), but on their own I'm not crazy about them. In general, I'm not a big fan of raw vegetables so this isn't surprising.

So when I found myself with a pile of locally grown radishes larger than I could use up in salads, I turned to this recipe. I can now say that I love radishes - as long as they're cooked. They look like red potatoes but they're not as starchy. They sort of reminded me of turnips and I love turnips. Sautéed radishes have a very mild taste and at only 20 calories per cup (without the butter, of course), they can fit into almost anyone's diet.

I picked up this cookbook at the auction (farmer's market) for only $2. This was the cookbook with all the cool vintage ads, not the The New Antoinette Pope School Cookbook. I got confused. Another neat thing is that this cookbook has several four leaf clovers pressed into it. I felt so lucky when I opened it.

This book was written by Fannie Farmer and it's a classic. It was already over 40 years old when this copy was printed in 1939. I believe it's still being printed. That's pretty amazing when you think about it.

Anyone else remember the Fannie Farmer candy stores? My memory is awful but I seem to remember one in Scranton, PA, right near the Globe department store.

Blast From The Past: Lemon-Blueberry Bundt Cake from July 2006. I froze some blueberries before we left for vacation and I have a couple of lemons on their last legs in the fridge. Maybe this cake is in my future.

Question of the Day: Have you ever eaten cooked radishes?

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I'm back (sort of)
--Traditional Bread and Butter Pickles

Traditional Bread and Butter Pickles
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving Copyright 2006

10 cups sliced trimmed pickling cucumbers (1/4-inch slices)
4 medium onions, thinly sliced
½ cup pickling or canning salt
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tbsp mustard seeds
1 tsp celery seeds
1 tsp ground turmeric

1. In a glass or stainless steel bowl, combine cucumbers, onions and salt. Mix well, cover with cold water and let stand at room temperature for 2 hours. Transfer to a colander placed over a sink; rinse with cool running water and drain thoroughly.
2. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
3. In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve sugar. Stir in vegetables and return to a boil.
4. Pack vegetables into hot jars to within a generous ½-inch of top of jar. Ladle hot pickling liquid into jar to cover vegetables leaving ½ inch of headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot pickling liquid. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
5. Place in jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Makes about 5 pint jars.

I finally broke open a jar of these bread and butter pickles. They were the first canning recipe that I made, about five weeks ago. I think they're pretty good, although not quite as good as Mrs. Fanning's Bread and Butter Pickles. Not bad for a first try. I'll probably experiment with other bread and butter pickle recipes in the future, just for the heck of it.

I'm back from my vacation and one thing I seem to have left behind is my appetite. I think I just need to detox for a few days. I don't feel very motivated to cook. I don't think it will take me long to get back in the swing of things. I have to prepare for our cookout next week so I can't really get back to the blogging full-force until after that's over. I'm having trouble getting excited about that too.

While I was gone, Brilynn asked me what my all-time favorite recipe is and I can't say that I have one. How could I pick just one? I couldn't even narrow it down to a reasonable number. That's what so great about food and recipes - the possibilities are endless.

Blast From The Past: Bayou Chicken Pasta from May 2007. Maybe I'll make this next week - it was really simple to make and good too.

Question of the Day: Do you have trouble recovering from vacations or do you get right back into the swing of things?

Friday, July 20, 2007

On vacation

I'll be back Thursday July 26th.

In the meantime, check out the Weekend Cookbook Challenge Number 18. I submitted my Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly. Everyday is a cookbook challenge around here.

Don't forget you can always check out:

Recipes, alphabetically
Recipes, by category
Recipes, by cookbook

This would be a good time to ask me a question, make a request, make a suggestion, etc.

More garlic!
--Garlic-Hoisin Sauce

Garlic-Hoisin Sauce
The America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook Copyright 2006

This is from a section on pan sauces for pork. You can used this on pork chops or pork medallions (any kind of pork really). Cook the pork before making this sauce.

6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
½ cup hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add the oil and garlic to the skillet and return to medium heat until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the broth, hoisin sauce, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and any accumulated pork juice, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened, about 7 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the pork before serving.

Sometimes I mess up a bit when planning menus. I'm not sure how two garlic heavy recipes ended up on the menu next to each other but the flavor of this recipe was different enough from yesterday's Garlicky Chicken Over Pasta that it wasn't a problem.

This sauce was simple and good but it was a bit strong between the garlic, the hoisin and the red wine vinegar. I wouldn't serve it for a romantic dinner.

This was my last meal to cook before we leave on vacation. Well, I bought frozen pizza for tonight, instead of making it from scratch. I do have to put it in the oven but that's about it. Making homemade pizza isn't hard but this saved me some time and some clean up.

I won't be gone long - I should be back to posting on Thursday. I had a dream last night that I had gone to school in Europe for a few weeks and I ended up realizing it was all a dream because I started asking myself what I did about my blog while I was gone.

No Blast From The Past or Question of the Day - just promise me that you won't forget about me while I'm gone!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Pretty good actually
--Garlicky Chicken Over Pasta

Garlicky Chicken Over Pasta
Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes Copyright 2002

2 pounds meaty chicken pieces
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
15 to 20 garlic cloves, peeled
1 ¼ cups rosé wine or chicken broth I used half white-wine/half chicken broth
¾ cup water
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
¼ teaspoon pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon snipped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
Hot cooked penne pasta
Fresh basil (optional)

1. Skin chicken, if desired (I desired). Rinse chicken; pat dry. Place the 1/3 cup flour in a plastic bag. Add a few chicken pieces at a time to the flour, shaking to coat.
2. In a 12-inch nonstick skillet heat olive oil. Add chicken and garlic cloves to the skillet. Cook, uncovered, over medium-heat for 10 minutes, turning to brown evenly. Reduce heat; carefully add the wine, ¾ cup water, the paprika, poultry seasoning, pepper and salt. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or until chicken in tender and no longer pink. Remove chicken; keep warm.
3. Skim fat from drippings. Crush garlic with tines of a fork. Stir together the ¼ cup water, the 2 tablespoons of flour, and basil; stir into pan drippings. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve chicken and sauce over hot cooked pasta. If desired, garnish with additional fresh basil.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 419 cal, 12 g fat, 69 mg chol, 156 mg sodium, 40 g carb, 2 g fiber, 29 g pro.

I was all set to be disappointed by this but I was pleasantly surprised. While I'm not a huge fan of drumsticks (I prefer thighs but I only had drumsticks this time), the garlickly sauce more than made up for that. This reminded me of something, maybe old-fashioned chicken and rice. This would have been great with rice or mashed potatoes too.

I don't think this would work as well with boneless chicken. First of all, you would have problems with timing. The garlic needs to cook for about 30 minutes, boneless chicken would probably be overdone at the point. Well, maybe not, but I don't think the gravy would have as rich of a flavor using boneless chicken.

You might be wondering where the slow cooker comes into play since this is a slow cooker cookbook. Well, there are bonus sections of one-dish meals and 5-ingredient meals included with this book. I think this could be modified for the crockpot but you would still need to brown the chicken and garlic.

I added a link to my library on the lower right side of the page. The pictures of the books link to amazon but I am not an amazon associate. The guy who made the Library Thing site would get any profits if you bought one of the books through the link. I just like having a place to list my books. I don't have all of them in there yet and it only includes books I own, not library books.

Blast From The Past: Rick Katz’s Brownies for Julia from May 2007. I've been thinking about these brownies a lot lately. Damn they were good.

Question of the Day: Do you own many books (cooking or otherwise)?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Not thrilling
Bloody Mary Steak

Bloody Mary Steak
Better Homes and Gardens Biggest Book of Slow Cooker Recipes Volume 2 Copyright 2006

2 pounds beef round steak, cut ¾ inch thick
Nonstick cooking spray
¾ cup hot-style tomato juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup water
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons cold water
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

1. Trim fat from meat. Cut meat into 6 serving-size pieces. Lightly coat an unheated large skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat skillet over medium-high heat. Add meat; cook until brown, turning once. Place meat in a 2 ½- to 3 ½-quart slow cooker. Add tomato juice, garlic and ¼ cup water.
2. Cover and cook on low-heat sitting for 8 to 9 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 4 ½ hours.
3. Transfer meat to a serving platter, reserving cooking juices. If desired, slice meat. Cover meat and keep warm.
4. For gravy, pour cooking juices into a glass measuring cup; skim off fat. Measure juices; add water if necessary to measure 1 ½ cups total liquid. In a small saucepan combine cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of cold water; stir in cooking juices. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Stir in horseradish. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve meat with gravy.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 196 cal, 4 g fat, 85 mg chol, 292 mg sodium, 3 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 35 g protein

I'm just having one of those weeks where nothing I make is thrilling the pants off of me. This was good but not as kicked up as I was expecting. It basically tasted like Swiss steak, without the onions and peppers. It was good, sure, but not spectacular. The meat was really lean so it turned out borderline dry.

What bothers me about slow-cooking beef like this is that it shrinks down so much. I could have made two stir-fry recipes out of the meat used in this one recipe, so maybe that's why I had higher expectations.

I had such high hopes for this cookbook, I bought both volumes. I was disappointed. They use a lot of convenience products and I don't know, the recipes just didn't grab me. I own about 6 slow cooker cookbooks now, I think. I'm tried several from the library. Only about 2 of all of those do I have a lot of confidence in, Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook and Delicious and Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes (my favorite). The truth is, you really can't just throw anything in a crockpot and have it come out well. Lean meats especially are very tricky. Boneless chicken breasts, impossible really.

Blast From The Past: Turkey Sloppy Joes from February 2007. That was a great slow cooker recipe from Delicious and Dependable Slow Cooker Recipes.

Question of the Day: Do you have a favorite crockpot recipe?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 2007 Cookbook Giveaway

This month I'm giving away a cookbook that I haven't even tried yet, All You Can Eat! All Occasion Entertaining. I have high hopes for it but unfortunately I just don't have time to squeeze in any recipes before the end of the month since I'm going on vacation next week and then I have a cookout to prepare for after that.

I think this is a very rare cookbook. For something that was printed so recently, I was shocked not to be able to find any information on it on the internet. Even amazon.com had no picture and only two used copies for sale. I googled it every which way and came up with nothing but a few used copies for sale. I'm perplexed, to say the least. I was really excited looking through all the wonderful recipes. There are no pictures but it's a large hardcover book. I don't even see it on the publisher's website. Very weird. I mean, I've seen a lot of cookbooks and I've seen plenty of duds that haven't disappeared without a trace. Both authors seem rather prolific - together and individually they've written several of the 'Everything' series of books. Actually, I have a sneaking suspicion that these recipes are also in some of those 'Everything' books, especially the Everything Holiday Cookbook (which was published a couple of years before this book so who knows?).

This book has over 30 'themes' - holidays, countries, ethnicities, low-carb, diabetic, etc. Something for everyone. Great fun, especially if you have children who might have to contribute to a theme meal for a class. They recipes vary from the simple to the complex. Something for everyone.

Here's the table of contents:

Here's a sample recipe:

The book has some slight damage, just some sticker residue and some indentations in the back cover (such as if you put a piece of paper on top and wrote on it). It's a hardcover without a dust jacket (I don't think it's missing, I don't think it ever had one).

So, while this isn't a well-known cookbook, I think it has great potential.

This is how it works - just leave a comment on this post. I just need an e-mail address (if your profile links to an e-mail, you don't need to type it out, I'll find it). Entry is open until the last day of the month. First chance I get after that, I'll draw the winner. Then I'll contact the winner for a mailing address and then I'll mail the book! I'll pay the shipping, of course (I'll probably send it media rate - postal rates have gone up again). Unfortunately, I'm going to have to limit this to mailing to US mailing addresses only. I took a bath on the last giveaway which ended up in Canada (I hope). I don't know if it was because of the last postal rate increase of if the postal clerk was clueless (I didn't even have to fill out a customs form, according to her). I've sent a book to Canada before and it was reasonable, although the last book was much larger. Since this book is quite large, I can't take a chance. My apologies to all of my foreign readers but blame the postal service!

I've received some some weird hits, resulting from queries on common e-mail extensions, hitting the cookbook giveaway posts. Probably someone trolling for e-mail addresses so feel free to modify your e-mail address when you leave it, using 'at' instead of @ and 'dot com' instead of '.com', etc.


The winner is "..." (yeah, that's her handle)


Another great chicken marinade
--Honey-Mustard Marinade

Honey-Mustard Marinade
Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue Copyright 2002

½ cup honey
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 teaspoon soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients. Use immediately, or cover and store in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Makes about 1 cup, or enough for up to 3 pounds of chicken or pork. (I halved the recipe and used about 1 - 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken breasts.)

First of all, I just wanted to let you know that I 'fixed' the tortellini salad I posted about yesterday. It turned out to be a real hit.

I served that salad with this chicken and it was a good match. This didn't have an overwhelming honey-mustard flavor, just a hint of it. It was very good - I would use this marinade again. I find Dijon mustard to be a bit like balsamic vinegar - it varies quite a bit between brands. I like Bookbinder's Dijon Mustard but in a recipe like this, it probably doesn't make too much of a difference what you use.

I'm feeling a little lost because we're going on a little vacation so I really don't need to plan menus for next week, prepare a big shopping list or even go to the auction this week (boo hoo!) I'll have to take some cookbooks along to keep me company.

Blast From The Past: Chicken Manicotti with Red Pepper Cream Sauce from December 2006. These were surprisingly delicious.

Question of the Day: Do you have a standard chicken marinade that you use for grilled chicken?

Monday, July 16, 2007

I've had better
--Quick Tortellini Salad

Quick Tortellini Salad
Pillsbury Complete Cookbook Copyright 2000, 2006

DRESSING (I doubled this since I had a larger bag of tortellini):
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 (9-ounce) pkg. refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini I used 16 oz frozen
1 cup sliced carrots
1 ½ cups frozen cut green beans
2 tablespoons slice green onions I used red onions

1. In jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all dressing ingredients; shake well. Set aside.
2. Cook tortellini, carrots and green beans as directed on tortellini package until tortellini is tender and vegetables are crisp-tender. Drain; return to saucepan. Cover with cold water; let stand 5 minutes. Drain well.
3. Place tortellini, carrots and green beans in medium bowl; add onions. Pour dressing over salad; toss gently to coat.

This was okay, not great. I cut the carrots too thick for my taste. I found the salad a bit bland besides the cheese tortellini component. I would have been better off freestyling this. I've definitely had better tortellini salad.

***UPDATE: I made this the night before we were actually going to eat it. I tasted it and posted about it and all day I thought about how disappointing it was going to be. So when I got home, I took out the carrots and sliced them into very thin slivers and added a spoonful of Hellman's to make it creamy. It was really, really good - even my husband commented on how good it was.***********

It's time to finalize my menu for my annual cookout and there are just too many options. I can't seem to narrow it down and streamline it. I hate making decisions.

I will be posting a new cookbook giveaway soon. Maybe tomorrow. Better late than never.

And now a public serving message:

BURGER KING SUCKS! I took my son there yesterday as a treat, so he could get one of those Transformer toys they've been advertising on the television every 5 minutes. It was dirty, the service was lousy, the food was lousy and THERE WERE NO TRANSFORMER TOYS! I can understand that they can run out of popular toys but they never told us they were out when I ordered, and then they tried to give him a girl's toy, saying that's all they had. Finally, they scraped up a boy's toy but not a Transformer. I mean, they can spend all that money on a national advertising campaign but the restaurant was a dump and they didn't even have the toys. Never again! (And I am not anti-fast food - I love McD's and Wendy's).

Blast From The Past: The Best Fried Rice from January 2006. This was really good fried rice but we're avoiding shellfish until my son is older. You can try it!

Question of the Day: Do you like any fast food? What's your favorite?

Friday, July 13, 2007

There's a new fish in town
--Baked Flounder with Fresh Lemon Pepper

Baked Flounder with Fresh Lemon Pepper
The Best of Cooking Light Copyright 2004

2 tablespoons grated lemon rind I just used the rind of one large lemon, about 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 ¼ teaspoons black peppercorns, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (6-ounce) flounder fillets
Cooking spray
Lemon wedges (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Combine the first 5 ingredients. Place fillets on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Rub garlic mixture evenly over fillets. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve fish with lemon wedges, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings Per serving: 189 cal, 5.4 g fat, 32.2 g protein, 1.2 g carbs, .4 g fiber, 82 mg chol

After my husband asked for a cease and desist order on salmon, I bought flounder. This is actually the second flounder recipe I've made but I accidentally deleted the picture of the last one before I could post about it. That time I had hot dogs as an alternate and my husband still ate the fish. This time he actually commented that dinner was really good (although I admit that he may have had an alterior motive). Flounder is less expensive that salmon and it's such a flat fish that it takes no time to cook. It doesn't quite have the health benefits of salmon but it's better than red meat.

This was very good but considering the effort (however small), was it better than bottled lemon pepper? I think so. I wasn't willing to zest more than one lemon though and I think one was plenty. I have a pet peeve about zesting more than one lemon for a recipe when it doesn't call for any other part of the lemon because then you end up with a produce bin full of naked, shriveling lemons. It definitely had a fresher taste than bottled lemon pepper and it really didn't take much effort, now that I own a Microplane (boy do I love my Microplane).

The only think I would change is that I would just use freshly ground pepper instead of 'crushed'. I'm not a big fan of hunks of black pepper.

Auction night! I can't wait although I really want peaches and I don't think they're ready yet, since I didn't notice any in the grocery store last night. I wasn't looking all that closely though. There were some beautiful peaches at the auction last week but they were actually too pretty to use for canning (and the price wasn't low enough).

Blast From The Past: Angie's Dad's Best Cabbage Coleslaw from August 2007. That's a really tasty cole slaw recipe.

Question of the Day: Where did you vacation this year (or where are you planning on vacationing this year)?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Last minute recipe
--Pasta with Cauliflower or Broccoli

Pasta with Cauliflower or Broccoli
How To Cook Everything Copyright 1998

1 head cauliflower or broccoli, 1 pound or more
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound penne, ziti or other cut pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Minced fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Bring a large pot of water to a boil; salt it.

Trim the cauliflower or broccoli and divide it into florets. Cook the cauliflower or broccoli until it is tender but not soft when pierced by a knife (it will cook further in the sauce, so be careful not to overcook it). Remove the cauliflower or broccoli and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook the oil and garlic together in a large, deep skillet over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. When the garlic is golden, turn off the heat if you’re not ready to proceed.

Add the cauliflower or broccoli to the skillet and turn the heat to medium. Cook, stirring and mashing the cauliflower or broccoli, until it is hot and quite soft. You can't quite mash broccoli so I chopped it up.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta. When the pasta is just about done, drain it, reserving about 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the skillet with the cauliflower or broccoli and toss with a large spoon until well combined. Add salt and pepper along with some of the pasta water to keep the mixture from drying out. Garnish and serve. I added Parmesan cheese.

Even though this recipe was title 'Pasta with Cauliflower or Broccoli', I think it lacked something with the broccoli. Cauliflower would have been sweeter and more flavorful. So I added some finely grated Parmesan cheese which could barely be seen in the final dish but I think it was needed. I thought this was going to be a bit of a disappointment but it was actually quite flavorful in the end.

I used locally grown broccoli that was just a buck at the auction. Last week felt like a lull. Strawberries are done and while there was plenty of produce, nothing local seemed to be in full force (well, there were lots of melons but I'm not sure if they were local or not). I'm looking forward to peaches, tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I found a great site, that if you navigate through, you can find a harvest schedule for your state if you're like me and not quite sure when your local produce is in season. Just choose your state in the middle of the page and there's a link for crop availablity/harvest schedule on the next page. It also list Pick Your Own farms.

Last night was menu planning night and what really came in handy is this menu planner that last May's cookbook giveaway winner, Alisha at Cook.Craft.Enjoy., sent me as a thank you. A thank you was really not necessary but it was very much appreciated. It couldn't have been more perfect for me if I had designed it myself.

Here's the planner folded up:

This is what it looks like unfolded. There are bookmarks to mark the recipes I'm planning to use, there's a two week planner, a shopping list and an area for notes.

The problem is, I almost didn't want to use it - it's so pretty. My menu planning has been very by-the-seat-of-my-pants lately which is why I really had to laugh at Jan's comment yesterday. I was picking out this pasta with broccoli recipe at 6:15am before I left for work yesterday.

And speaking of the cookbook giveaway, I know I've been really late this month but I will get one out there.

Blast From The Past: Caucasian Eggplant Caviar from August 2007. I started attending the auction late last year and discovered eggplant right as it disappeared. I can't wait to get my fill this year.

Question of the Day: Have you ever visited the Adirondacks? (I'm trying to plan next year's vacation so if anyone has any recommendations for that area, please let me know!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A great recipe from a vintage cookbook
--Creole-Style Pork Tenderloin Patties

Creole-Style Pork Tenderloin Patties
The New Antoinette Pope School Cookbook Copyright 1961

Have pork tenderloin patties sliced and flattened to about 1 inch in thickness. Season with salt and pepper. Roll in flour or bread crumbs, dip into one egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk, then into very light bread crumbs again. Let stand on wax paper about 20 minutes, turning them over twice while standing. Brown meat in about ¼-inch hot fat on both sides over moderate heat (I used a little bit of canola oil). Pour over meat 1 cup crushed tomatoes (crush with hand) I used diced tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, 1 small thin-sliced onion and 1 small thin-sliced green pepper that has been sautéed in a little shortening 5 minutes. Add ¼ teaspoon baking soda. Cover and simmer 20 to 30 minutes, or until meat is tender when tested with a fork. Do not overcook, and keep heat low.

1 pound serves 3 or 4.

I had never heard of the Antoinette Pope Cooking School but apparently it was a popular cooking school in Chicago. This was a steal for $2 at the auction compared to the prices I see on Amazon and ebay. I can see why it's still in demand. I think I'll get a lot of use out of this book. Not all of the recipes are written in this paragraph style which can be a bit confusing but it saves me some typing.

I picked this recipe because I had everything on hand to make it (I've really been trying to use stuff up). This turned out to be a real winner. I would definitely make it again. It was very flavorful and I loved it with mashed potatoes. It had a very familiar flavor but I couldn't pinpoint exactly what it reminded of - maybe swiss steak or chicken parmesan (from the combination of the breading and tomato).

There were a bunch of ads in the back of this cookbook and surprisingly almost all of the products are still being sold today - Royal Gelatin, Swan's Down Cake Flour, Marshmallow Fluff, Certo Liquid Pectin and several others. Considering it was published over 40 years ago, I thought that was impressive.

Blast From The Past: Spicy Meatballs with Fiery Chili Sauce from December 2006. I made these again using ground turkey and I think they were even better.

Question of the Day: Have you ever heard of the Antoinetter Pope Cooking School?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Teriyaki Beef Broil

Teriyaki Beef Broil
The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 ¾ pounds top round steak (1-inch thick)
¼ cup soy sauce I used low-sodium
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons molasses
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground mustard
6 cloves garlic, minced
Fresh chives (optional)

Partially freeze steak; slice diagonally across the grain into ¼-inch slices. Place steak in a zip-top freezer bag or shallow dish. Combine soy sauce and next 5 ingredients; pour over steak. Seal or cover, and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour. I marinated it while I was at work, about 10 hours.

Remove steak from marinade, discarding marinade. Thread steak onto 8 (10-inch) bamboo skewers. Place skewers on a lightly greased rack of a broiler pan.

Broil 5 ½ inches from heat 5 to 6 minutes, turning once. I grilled them and they took one a couple of minutes. Sprinkle with chives, if desired.

Yield: 4 servings Per serving: 401 cal, 20.7 g fat, 46.2 g pro, 5.6 g carbs, .2 g fiber, 85 mg chol, 565 mg sodium

I just love this type of recipe, especially on the grill. I'm sure these would have turned out great broiled too but it was a nice evening and I wouldn't have to clean a broiler pan if I used the grill, so I did. It was a hot evening but these didn't require much cooking time at all. I put them on the grill, took the container in the house, came back out and they were about done. I just gave them one quick flip.

It was a bit of a pain to skewer the meat but otherwise this was very simple and quick to prepare. I just freestyled some vegetable fried rice to serve with it (I cooked the rice the night before).

It's hot! It will get close to 100 today which I know is mild compared to what many people are experiencing right now but I'm just not used to it.

Blast From The Past: Easy Italian Spiced Pork from June 2006. Those chops were great. I need to make those again soon.

Question of the Day: What's the expected high temperature in your area today?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Blueberries were good this week
--Blueberry Buckle

Blueberry Buckle
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Copyright 2003

¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons butter
1 large egg
½ cup milk
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (optional) I didn't use this
1 teaspoon vanilla (optional) I didn't use this
2 cups blueberries (fresh or, if frozen, unthawed) I used fresh

¾ cup sugar
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 to 3 teaspoons lemon zest or 1/8 teaspoon lemon oil I used the zest
½ teaspoon salt
5 1/3 tablespoons soft butter

Grease and flour a 9-inch square of 9-inch round pan and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cream together the sugar and butter then add the egg and mix at medium speed for 1 minute. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Stir in the milk alternately with the dry ingredients and vanilla, scraping down the sides of the bowl. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spread the batter into the prepare pan.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, lemon and salt. Add the butter, mixing to make medium-sized crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel evenly over the batter.

Bake the buckle for 45 to 50 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool it. (in the pan) on a rack. Serve the buckle with coffee in the morning or with whipped cream for dessert.

Makes about 16 servings. Per serving: 226 cal, 7 g fat, 3 g protein, 18 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 1 g fiber, 32 mg chol, 204 g sodium

I really wanted to make a pie but I was too lazy. I have to be in a certain frame of mind to work with pastry dough and I just wasn't in that place. It reached a point where I just had to grab a recipe quickly and make something or I wouldn't get to use the gorgeous blueberries I bought at the auction on Friday. Not that they aren't fine on their own, but where's the fun in that?

This was quite good. The blueberries were nice and sweet and of course, a touch of lemon always goes nice with blueberries. The cake part was moist and the crumb topping was crunchy but not too crunchy. No complaints.

This is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday this week. Blueberries are full of antioxidants.

I'm experiencing cookbook overload. I picked up a few good ones at the auction on Friday, then I trekked through massive road construction to get to the library on Saturday and picked up a huge stack of cookbooks. I can't wait to get through them all.

Blast From The Past: Key Lime Pie from June 2006, also from this cookbook. Good pie.

Question of the Day: What was the best thing you ate over the weekend?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Not too bad
--Mary’s Barbecued Chicken

Mary’s Barbecued Chicken
Fix It and Forget It Cookbook Copyright 2000

2 lbs chicken pieces
¼ cup flour
1 cup ketchup
2 cups water
1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
2 drops Tabasco
¼ tsp. garlic salt
¼ tsp. onion salt

1. Dust chicken with flour. Transfer to slow cooker. I browned it a little bit first but I don't think it mattered.
2. Combine remaining ingredients. Pour over chicken.
3. Cover. Cook on Low 5 hours. I cooked it a few hours on high, then reheated it in the oven the next day

I didn't expect this to be great - I really just wanted a crockpot recipe for drumsticks that didn't need any ingredients outside my pantry and this fit the bill. It was a lot of liquid so this ended up as more of a stewed chicken. Reheating it in the oven uncovered helped it's appearance - the chicken developed a bit of a glaze that way. It was pretty good - not spectacular but enjoyable. The sauce wasn't as intense as a bottled barbecue sauce but it was very flavorful and it really permeated the chicken.

So far I'm finding most recipes from this book to be good, not great. But to be fair, it's obvious by looking at this cookbook that every recipe is a crapshoot. It's contains a very broad collection of recipes that obviously have not been pared down at all. It's kind of like allrecipes.com without the rating system - endless variations of recipes that you must weed through and then decide for yourself which one will work for you.

I'm so glad it's Friday! I love auction day, especially now that I've started canning. I can't believe how much cheaper the produce is there - even the non-local stuff is much less expensive than the grocery store prices.

Blast From The Past: Whole Wheat Blueberry Kuchen from August 2006. This was GREAT the first time I made it. The second time it didn't seem to cook right (I couldn't figure out if it was raw or soggy). I'm going to have to try it again.

Question of the Day: What fresh produce is best in your area right now?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I'll have to try again
--Stuffed Zucchini

Stuffed Zucchini
Helping Our Kids Grow Copyright 2000

2 med. size zucchini
2 c. white bread cubes I used some leftover potato hot dog rolls and a wheat bun
1 c. grated cheddar cheese I used Cabot 50% Light Cheddar
1 tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. oregano
¼ tsp. garlic powder
½ cup melted butter or margarine I used light butter

Trim ends off zucchini. Split lengthwise and boil until clean (clean? that's what it said - I don't write this stuff), about 10 to 15 minutes (should look transparent). Do not overcook. It should not be mushy. Drain and cool. (Or burn the hell out of your hands trying to scoop them out hot like I did.) Scoop out the seeds to make a boat. Mix the other ingredients together and stuff zucchini with the mixture. Heat oven to 425 degrees. If desired, put spaghetti sauce over stuffed zucchini. Put in the oven for 15 minutes.

I think I may have overcooked the zucchini during the first cooking. Or maybe not. Maybe boiling zucchini is just wrong. The zucchini just tastes so blah boiled. The filling was good of course (bread, cheese, butter - what can be wrong with that?) but the flavor didn't manage to seep into the zucchini. Maybe adding tomato sauce would have helped.

I decided to make stuffed zucchini at the last minute so I didn't have a lot of time to shop around for a recipe. I'm going to keep looking for a better one, but I haven't given up on the concept.

I'm so tired. I stayed up way too late last night. This holiday-in-the-middle-of-the-week thing has my body confused.

Blast From The Past: Easy Dill Pickles from just last week. I ate them all and I want more. I hope I can still get my hands on pickling cukes.

Question of the Day: Have you ever stuffed a vegetable? Which ones?

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Not as good as I expected
--Zippy Beef Tips

Zippy Beef Tips
Fix It and Forget-It Cookbook Copyright 2000

2 lbs. stewing meat, cubed
2 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
10 ¾-oz. can cream of mushroom soup
1 envelope dry onion soup mix I didn't use the entire package
1 cup 7-up, or other lemon-lime carbonated drink I used Sierra Mist Free

1. Place meat and mushrooms in slow cooker.
2. Combine mushroom soup, soup mix, and soda. Pour over meat.
3. Cover. Cook on Low 8 hours. I cooked on high for a few hours.
4. Serve over rice. I used whole wheat egg noodles

This recipe is similar (or the same) as what I often see referred to as No Peek Stew over the internet. I've seen many, many people rave about it. While it was certainly edible, I didn't go crazy over this but it was probably my fault. First of all, I didn't brown the meat. The recipe didn't call for it but without browning the meat, the color was a bit odd when it was done.

Then, I hesitated and couldn't add all that sodium-laden soup mix. I added all the dried onions and a bit of the beef base. I think that would have been okay except this recipe called for fresh mushrooms, which released a lot of liquid and diluted the sauce a bit too much. I think canned mushrooms would have actually worked better here. The fresh mushrooms also had an odd dark gray color after being cooked and they started out uber-fresh and white.

Lastly, I used diet soda and I have no idea if fake sweetener holds up to cooking the same as high fructose corn syrup or sugar. That may or may not have made a difference.

So I'm still intrigued enough to try this again someday. I'm kicking myself because I had reservations about the lack of browning and the fresh mushrooms before I made this. Live and learn.

Well it's the 4th of July so no Blast From the Past or Question of the Day today. It's a holiday, although it doesn't feel like one. It feels like a strange one-day weekend since we had our 4th of July celebration this past Saturday.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Right up our alley
--Smoked Sausage Skillet

Smoked Sausage Skillet
Taste of Home The Market Fresh Cookbook Copyright 2006

1 pound smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, sliced into ¼-inch pieces I used smoked turkey sausage
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon garlic salt
¼ teaspoon rubbed sage
2 cups cooked pasta I used whole wheat egg noodles - more than 2 cups

In a large skillet, sauté the sausage, cabbage and celery in oil for 5 minutes. Add the mustard, garlic salt and sage. Cook and stir over medium heat for 4-6 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in noodles; cook until heated through.

Yield: 4 servings.

My husband and I both have ancestors from Eastern Europe so we're no stranger to kielbasa. We're also big fans of haluski (cabbage and noodles) so this recipe caught my eye. I used smoked turkey sausage instead of the lite kielbasa because the turkey sausage has less fat.

I wasn't disappointed although I wish I had used more cabbage. The noodles tasted a bit stale to me, which irritated me. That's the second time these noodles have tasted stale and I can't figure it out. They seem to sell well - the bags haven't been sitting on the store shelf for a long time or anything. They haven't expired. Luckily the cabbage and sausage mixture was good enough to make up for what the noodles lacked. This is definitely something I would make again. It was fast, delicious, pretty healthy actually and economical too. I bought the sausage for $1.99 on a manager's special. There's literally about 20 cents worth of cabbage in there, a few cents worth of celery and probably about $1 worth of noodles, if that.

This is my contribution to Sweetnick's ARF/5-A-Day Tuesdays. Cabbage is very good for you.

I have to do the June cookbook giveaway drawing. I still don't have a book for July. Stay tuned. I'll try to get it up by Monday at the latest.

I got the neatest thank you from last month's winner but I want to get a picture before I tell you about it. It's so cool!

Blast From The Past: Barbecued Sausage Pieces from May 2007. I have to admit I've made that a couple of times already. It's basic but we all like it and sometimes I just need to make something that simple.

Question of the Day: Have you ever eaten haluski?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Canning is addictive
--Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly

Balsamic Red Pepper Jelly
Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving Copyright 2006

5 medium red bell peppers, stemmed and seeded
3 medium jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and deveined (leave some seeds and veins if you want it hot)
2 cloves garlic
½ cup red wine vinegar
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 package (1.75 oz/ 49 to 57 g) regular powdered fruit pectin
3 ¼ cups granulated sugar

1. Finely dice enough red pepper to measure ½ cup and set aside. In a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, purée remaining red pepperw, jalapeño peppers and garlic until smooth.
2. Transfer purée to a dampened jelly bag or a strainer lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth set over a deep bowl. Let drip, undisturbed, for 30 minutes. Measure 1 ½ cups pepper juice. If you do not have the required amount, add ½ cup boiling water to the remaining pulp in the jelly bag to extract additional juice.
3. Meanwhile, prepare canner, jars and lids.
4. Transfer pepper juice to a large, deep stainless steel saucepan. Add reserved diced pepper, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and lemon juice. Whisk in pectin until dissolved. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add sugar all at once and return to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil hard, stirring constantly, for 1 minutes. Remove from heat and quickly skim off foam.
5. Quickly pour hot jelly into hot jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lids on jars. Screw band down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.
6. Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 10 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, them remove jars, cool and store.

Makes about seven 4-ounce jars (or four 8-ounce jars). The recipe called for 4-ounce jars but I didn't realize this and bought 8-ounce jars.

Yes, I got the canner out again this weekend. It was quite easy to make this recipe. In fact, I made it twice in one day. I used my freezer stash of jalapeños for the first batch and they were seeded and deveined before I froze them. The jelly didn't have enough heat for my taste. So I went out and bought two good sized jalapeños and used the entire peppers in the next batch. That batch packed the bit of punch that I was looking for in a pepper jelly.

I've purchased a few hot pepper jellies over the years and some lack flavor and/or heat. The first batch I made was flavorful but without I couldn't help but feel that something was missing. I think my second batch had the perfect combination of both. I'll definitely make this again someday.

I'm in trouble with this canning thing. It's addictive but like baking, it's easy to get carried away. There is only so much room in one's diet for pickles and jams and I don't think I'm brave enough to get into pressure canning low-acid foods.
So now we're up to 6 jars of bread and butter pickles, 6 jars of dill pickles, 4 jars of mild balsamic red pepper and 4 jars of spicy balsamic red pepper jelly. That's after only 2 weekends. Yikes!

If you want to get into canning, you need to use modern recipes so this book is perfect. It not only has the recipes but it has all of the other information you need to can safely.

This recipe, especially on top of the cream cheese, is perfect for the Weekend Cookbook Challenge. The current theme (#18) is Red and White. This is my first entry, which is odd because everyday is a cookbook challenge here at the Cookbook Junkie. The round up will be posted after July 15th.

Blast From The Past: Old-Fashioned Potato Salad from October 2005. I've been craving some of this.

Question of the Day: What's your latest addiction?