Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Not afraid of broiling anymore

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008 Copyright 2007

2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt (too much, IMO)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
Cooking spray
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

Preheat broiler.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Remove chicken from oven; brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Broil 1 minute. Remove chicken from oven and turn over. Brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Broil 1 additional minute or until chicken is doneIt's safer to make sure chicken is cooked completely before brushing with the honey mixture since the glaze cooks up very quickly! 

Yield:4 servings (serving size: 2 chicken thighs)

Nutritional Information Calories:321 (31% from fat) Fat:11g (sat 3g,mono 4.1g,poly 2.5g) Protein:28g Carbohydrate:27.9g Fiber:0.6g Cholesterol:99mg Iron:2.1mg Sodium:676mg Calcium:21mg

I'll be honest, I initially wasn't that excited about this recipe. Why did I even select it? Well, it required no extra ingredients. Also, since discovering the joys of Costco's boneless, skinless chicken thighs, I'm always on the lookout for recipes that call for them.

Several times I had these on the menu but they got pushed aside but the time had come to actually make them. Even though I couldn't work up any enthusiasm for this recipe, I remembered a similar one that surprised me - Honey-Glazed Spiced Pork Tenderloin - and I held hope that this would also pleasantly surprise me.

And it did! If fact, I enjoyed the chicken recipe even more than the pork recipe. I loved the mixture of honey and spices which is odd since chili powder and especially cumin can both sometimes be a turn off for me. Except for it being a bit too salty, I thought this recipe was awesome and I thrilled with how quickly and evenly the chicken thighs cooked using the broil method. I've always been a bit broiler-shy for cooking meats that need to be thoroughly cooked.

Question of the Day: Does this recipe sound good to you?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Even better from scratch

Eggplant Caponata
Cooking With Herbs and Spices Copyright 1963, 1970, 1984

1 medium eggplant
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons tomato sauce
¾ cup chopped celery
2 tablespoons capers
12 stuffed green olives, cut into halves
2 tablespoons wine vinegar I used red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

1. Peel the eggplant and cut it into cubes. Sauté in five tablespoons of the olive oil.

2. Remove the eggplant from the skillet and add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Cook the garlic and onion in it until the onion is brown. Add the tomato sauce and celery and simmer until the celery is tender. If necessary, add a little water to the skillet.

3. Return the eggplant to the skillet and add the capers and olives. Heat the vinegar with the sugar and pour it over the eggplant. Add pepper to taste and simmer the mixture tem to fifteen minutes longer, stirring frequently. Serve hot or cold with lemon wedges and buttered toast fingers. Cold caponata may be served on lettuce leaves.

My first experience with caponata was from a can and I have to say, I did enjoy the canned version. That was many years ago and it was one of those things I stopped buying because I could easily eat the entire can which is small but fattening. It's fattening from the oil. Eggplant soaks up a lot of oil.

This recipe is no less fattening and no less addictive. I might try boiling the eggplant cubes briefly next time or perhaps roasting them. Anything to cut back on the oil. At least it's a healthy oil but it's all the same to my hips.

I'll be honest, while I used all of the ingredients listed and only those listed, I wasn't religious about measurements here. I had two eggplants and wanted to use them both so I added a bit more of everything else too.

Question of the Day: Have you ever tried caponata?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Something different for a change

Tropical Tapioca Pudding
The Conscious Cook Copyright 2009

2 (13 ½-ounce) cans coconut milk (not light)
½ cup small pearl tapioca (not instant)
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup granulated sugar or ¼ cup light agave nectar I used raw agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla extract

Tropical Fruit (choose one or combine)
2 large ripe bananas, diced
1 ripe mango, diced
1 to ½ cups drained canned crushed pineapple or pineapple chunks
1 to ½ cups pomegranate seeds
1 large persimmon, diced
3 or 4 kiwis, peeled and diced or sliced

1. Combine the coconut milk (be sure to scrape the thick cream from the cans), 1 full can of water, the tapioca, and salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently to prevent sticking.
2. Stir in the sugar, then reduce the heat to medium-low and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pudding has thickened and the tapioca pearls are completely translucent, 20 to 25 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla bean paste. Gently fold in the fruit and let cool for 15 minutes. Spoon into serving bowls and serve warm or chill, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 hours before serving. Garnish with your favorite fresh fruit.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

I guess I shouldn't be surprised by how good this was, knowing how much fat is in coconut milk. I've never actually cooked with coconut milk before and I was surprised by how cream-like it is. This wasn't incredibly sweet but it was definitely sweet enough. The flavors rounded out nicely. I just wish I had picked up some pineapple too. I only had banana which was great but pineapple would have put it over the top.

This recipe is from The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen, a brand new meat and dairy-free cookbook coming out next week. I think it's well-timed since there many people are thinking about how and what they're eating right now. Even those of us who aren't giving up meat and dairy completely can realize the benefit of cutting back on those foods.

This is probably my first vegan cookbook and I wasn't sure what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised that the recipes aren't 'way out there'. They aren't exactly my usual fare (a good thing - variety is nice) but the recipes are very doable for anyone who cooks. Recipes that caught my eye in particular include some great-looking salads, some recipes that used faux meats that looked very meat-like*, a great looking focaccia, some cakes that looked fantastic. Oh there several small appetizer-type dishes that looked incredible too. Maybe I've just been stuck in a rut lately but I got excited looking over this cookbook and even more excited after enjoying the first recipe so much.

(*The woman who wrote the intro claimed that Tal Ronnen cooked for one of her dinner parties and the guests thought they had been served veal when actually no meat had been served!)

I was afraid there would be a lot of weird ingredients but there was nothing I couldn't get my hands on if I really tried. I've already tried vegan mayonnaise (Vegenaise) which several recipes call for and I thought it was pretty good. While I haven't tried the brands of meat substitutes mentioned in the book, I have tried other brands and I know that some faux meats are very good. A few recipes call for nutritional yeast flakes which I know I could get at the local Amish store. There were some nut milks, Earth balance shortening, faux stocks, etc but I think if you're actually vegan you've probably found a supplier for most of these things already and if you're not vegan, you could probably substitute with non-vegan ingredients in some cases.

Since we are a peanut and tree nut free home, I thought that might be an issue but this book didn't have as many nuts as I thought it might. Cashews are made into a cream-substitute and used in many recipes and of course there are nuts in other recipes but that still left plenty to choose from. There was a chocolate chip and peanut cake that looked fantastic but sadly won't ever be made in this house.

I look forward to trying more of the recipes in this book. If I ever have to feed a vegan, this will be a handy book to have on hand.

Question of the Day: Do you know any vegans personally?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Practically a dream come true

American Chop Suey
Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives Copyright 2008

3 tablespoons butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground beef I used ground venison which I boiled first
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Kosher salt I used celery salt
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
2/3 cup tomato juice I used Spicy V-8
Pinch of sugar
1 pound elbow macaroni I used non-elbow macaroni

Heat the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Then add the ground beef and continue to cook, stirring and breaking up the chunks of meat with a spoon. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle the herbs and pepper over the meat, add salt to taste, and mix in well.

Add the canned tomatoes with their juices, the tomato sauce, paste, and juice. Add sugar to taste. Simmer while you cook the pasta.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Drain. Mix the macaroni into the chop suey. Serve hot. Serves 8.

First things first. For years I have yearned to be able to buy non-elbow macaroni. I know from older recipe pamphlets that it used to be available. The technology is still around since Kraft Macaroni and Cheese is made with non-elbow macaroni. I don't mean to insult elbow macaroni but what is that great about it that it shoved the non-elbow variety right off the market?

So when I saw this new Quick Cook Pasta in non-elbow macaroni shape (the description on the pasta's site is wrong - it's not curved!) in Wal-Mart, I nearly leaped for joy.

I was worried that this quick cook pasta wouldn't be as good as regular pasta but it was close. It did cook very quickly - an excellent time saver. Unfortunately the noodles were a bit bigger than I would have liked since they we getting into ziti territory but at least the non-elbow noodle has it's foot back in the door.

Okay, now about the recipe. It was recommended to me and I had no doubt it would be good. I opted to use venison since it's almost deer season again and I have still have a lot of venison in the freezer. I boiled the ground venison first just to be sure there wasn't too much deer-taste there. You can't exactly marinate ground meat so this is my personal solution to using ground venison. I've worked with it without pre-treating it and usually it's been fine but I didn't want to take a chance. I just used water but sometimes I use some beef bouillon.

I used celery salt instead of kosher salt and Spicy V-8 instead of tomato juice since my favorite venison recipe, Venison in Sauce, includes celery and that's what really makes it, in my opinion.

This was a real crowd-pleaser. It has a strong tomato sauce which made it great for the venison. My son loved it and especially liked the noodles (yep, he's my boy.)

I haven't had a loser from this cookbook yet. I hope there's another volume on the way.

Question of the Day: Are there any long-lost products you would like to see come back?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can you tell that I like carrots?

Devilish Beef Stew
Better Homes and Gardens Complete Step-By-Step Cook Book Copyright 1978

1 ½ pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1-inch cubes
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 cups water
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 ½ cups water
4 medium potatoes, peeled and quartered I left the skin on
6 small onions, quartered
4 carrots, quartered I love carrots in stew so I added a lot more
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup cold water

In plastic bag toss beef cubes with flour to coat, reserving remaining flour. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven brown the beef, 1/3 at a time, in hot oil. Return all meat to pan; remove from heat. Add the 2 cups water, mustard, salt, garlic, chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, and pepper. Simmer, covered, 1 to 1 ½ hours or till meat is almost tender.

Add the 1 ½ cups water, potatoes, onions, carrots and celery. Simmer, covered, about 30 minutes or till vegetables are tender.

I refrigerated it for two days at this point. I removed the solid fat before proceeding. Since I threw out the flour I used for the meat, I just made a slurry without really measuring anything and thickened the stew with that.

For gravy, remove meat and vegetables, skim fat from liquid, if necessary. Blend the ¼ cup cold water into the reserved flour until smooth. Slowly stir into hot liquid. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Return meat and vegetable to gravy mixture. Heat through.

Makes 8 servings.

This was a better than average beef stew. I wasn't sure about the chili powder and I still don't know what to think of it. I probably wouldn't have even realized it was there if I didn't know it. Did it add anything to the stew? I honestly don't know but I was just glad that it certainly didn't ruin it.

This was rather economical too. I had picked up some sort of small thick chuck (or chuck-like) steaks on clearance that I used for this. The meat was so tender, just perfect. I got most of the vegetables at the auction (farmer's market). I may have been jumping the gone on stew weather but nobody complained.

I'm having a bit of luck with this cookbook. First the Milk and Honey Cake, now this. I find Better Homes and Gardens cookbooks to usually be reliable but every once and while I find one that I just don't care for.

Question of the Day: How do you feel about carrots?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The man knows chicken

Frank’s Other Favorite (Sweet ‘N Smoky Chicken)
365 Ways To Cook Chicken Copyright 1986

1 large onion, sliced
1 chicken (3 pounds), cut up
½ teaspoon hickory-smoked salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place onion slices in a 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken in a single layer, skin side up, on top of onion. Sprinkle with hickory salt and pepper.
2. In small bowl, combine ketchup, maple syrup, vinegar and mustard. Pour over chicken. I spooned it carefully over each piece. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes, until chicken is tender. I cooked it longer since I don't like bone-in chicken the least bit undercooked.

This was allegedly one of Frank Purdue's favorite chicken recipes at some point in time. How could you not be intrigued by that? There are two of his supposed favorite recipes in this book, hence the 'other' in the title.

I have to say that while this is nothing out of the ordinary, it was a very good variation on roast chicken with barbecue sauce. The sauce had the perfect blend of flavors, it adhered to the chicken perfectly and it didn't burn (that can be a problem with sweet sauces).

I'm glad it wasn't a disappointment because the hickory salt and real maple syrup I bought were not inexpensive. Hickory-smoked salt isn't easy to track down either. I had never seen it. I thought it might be one of those products you just can't get anymore but I found it in Wegman's, made by Spice Islands. I remembered that I had another recipe that called for it but I couldn't find it so I used some smoked paprika. I just looked up that recipe and it's practically the same recipe as this one! Hey, after 4 years I'm bound to repeat myself occasionally. Frankly (ha!) this recipe was much better. The extra oil and water in that recipe ruined it. In this recipe, the sauce is just enough a perfect coating over the chicken which is all it needs since any excess sauce would be useless since it would mix with the chicken fat.

I love that my grocery store usually has cut-up chickens for under $1.50/pound. I wasn't seeing that for a while but a lot of older recipes call for a whole chicken, cut-up. They even include the gizzards which I really should start saving (the necks at least) since soup season is just about here.

Question of the Day: Have you ever used hickory-smoked salt in your cooking? Are you at all familiar with it?

Monday, September 21, 2009

A guilt-inducing breakfast treat

Chocolate Breakfast Muffins
The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Copyright 2003

2/3 cup (2 ounces) cocoa, Dutch-process or natural
1 3/4 cups (7 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (6 ounces) chocolate chips
2 large eggs
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons vinegar
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter or margarine, melted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large measuring cup or medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients, along with the melted butter, to the dry ingredients, stirring to blend. There's no need to beat these muffins; just make sure everything is well combined.

Scoop the batter into 12 lightly greased muffin cups. Bake the muffins for 15 to 20 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean (watch them closely, as they'll burn around the edges if they bake too long). Remove the muffins from the oven, and after 5 minutes remove them from the pan, allowing them to cool slightly on a wire rack before serving.

These muffins make a shameful breakfast but they were incredibly good. Who knew you could make brownies in muffin cups and call them 'breakfast muffins'?

This isn't the first time I've made chocolate muffins. I've also made Dorie's Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins. I think those looked a little nicer (better rise, more even) but these might beat those on taste. It's hard to say for sure without a side-by-side comparison. Maybe someday I'll attempt that.

Question of the Day: Do you approve of chocolate for breakfast?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Needed some doctoring

Orange Mandarin Chicken
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2003 Copyright 2002

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil I forgot this!
4 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges in light syrup, undrained
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 teaspoon bottled minced garlic
1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.

While chicken cooks, drain oranges in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. Add oranges, 2 tablespoons liquid, onions, jalapeño, and garlic to pan. Reduce heat; simmer 2 minutes. Combine broth, soy sauce, and cornstarch; add to pan. Bring to a boil; cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened.

I cut the chicken into smaller pieces. I added a bit more soy sauce and touch of the seasoning from the ramen packet.

Calories: 212 (16% from fat) Fat:3.8g (sat 0.7g,mono 1.3g,poly 1.3g) Protein: 27.2g Carbohydrate: 15.2g Fiber: 0.7g Cholesterol:66mg Iron:1.9mg Sodium:562mg Calcium:27mg

I made the mistake of reading the reviews of this recipe. Some loved it, many thought it bland and felt like something was missing. It was too late to change the menu so I went forth. I too felt something was missing - and it was! I forgot the sesame oil. By the time I realized it, the dish was plated. Oh well. I ended up added some of the ramen seasoning packet and a tad more soy sauce and it was good but nothing spectacular. My oranges fell apart and I think that helped.

I served this over ramen noodles and my son was happy.

I'll have to keep this short. We have our first kindergarten field trip today. I'd be more excited about it if it wasn't for the boring non-refrigerated lunch I had to pack.

Question of the Day: Where did you take field trips when you were in school? I can remember going to a farm, a state park, an airport and a local television station. My school was not very big on field trips because after grammar school I don't remember any field trips until high school, when my French class went to NYC twice and Philadelphia once.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Welcome back, London Broil

Marinated London Broil
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009 Copyright 2008

1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (2-pound) boneless top round steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Pierce steak with a fork. Add steak to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 2 hours, turning every 30 minutes.

2. Preheat broiler.

3. Remove steak from bag; discard marinade. Scrape shallots and garlic from steak; discard shallots and garlic. Place steak on broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle steak evenly with salt and pepper. Broil 4 inches from heat for 6 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. I cooked it on the Griddler. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing against the grain.

Yield:8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces)

Nutritional Information Calories:228 (30% from fat) Fat:7.5g (sat 2.5g,mono 3.3 ,poly 0.4g) Protein:36.6g Carbohydrate:1.2g Fiber:0.1g Cholesterol:93mg Iron:3.4mg Sodium:263mg Calcium:12mg

While this steak turned out delicious, I think I would have had similar results with marinades that didn't require any expensive ingredients. Shallots aren't all that inexpensive around here, if you can even find any worth buying. And then they get scraped away! I think onions would have sufficed.

I did think it was a bit too lemony. In defense of the recipe though, I marinated this while I was at work all day, not just for 2 hours. So maybe, just maybe, it wouldn't have been as lemony if I had followed the instructions.

I wanted to grill this outside but the weather was threatening so I used the Griddler and I thought it did an excellent job.

I used to make 'London Broil' (top round) a lot but I either made it too often or just hit a few recipes that didn't work for me, and I stopped considering it as a dinner option. I picked this up on a buy one get one free offer and now I wish I had stocked up.

Question of the Day: Do you ever cook with shallots?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A very slight variation on a favorite recipe

Frankly Favorites
The New Karo All American Cook Book

2 tablespoons margarine
1 pound frankfurters, cut into 1-inch pieces I used a 12-oz package of all-beef hot dogs
2 tablespoons chopped onion
½ medium green pepper, cut into strips
1/3 cup Karo dark corn syrup
1 (8 ½ ounce) can crushed pineapple
2 tablespoons vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 ½ tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup water
1 pimiento, cut into strips I used a small jar of chopped pimiento

Melt margarine in skillet. Add frankfurters, onion and green pepper. Saute until vegetables are tender. Stir in Karo syrup, pineapple with juice, vinegar and soy sauce. Meanwhile, combine corn starch and salt. Blend in water and add to mixture in skillet. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil and boil 1 minute. Stir in pimiento just before serving. If desired, serve over rice.

Makes 5 or 6 servings.

This is similar to Hawaiian Franks which we love but I thought it wouldn't hurt to try another version. Hawaiian Franks are a bit sweeter and I think I prefer that recipe but this one was good too.

Look at the size of the green pepper I picked up for this! It's taller and almost twice as wide as a soda can. I only used a small portion of it in this recipe.

This was an undated pamphlet cookbook from Karo that I picked up somewhere along the way. I'd guess it's from the 60s, possibly the early 70s. There are several recipes in it I'd like to try someday. Poor corn syrup gets a bad rap these days but if we were just using the regular stuff in a recipe every now and then instead of finding High Fructose Corn Syrup in just about every packaged product, it wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Question of the Day: Do you have any corn syrup in your pantry?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Yes, from Cooking Light

Butterscotch Blondies
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008 Copyright 2007

2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoon unsalted butter
3/4 cup egg substitute I used 3 eggs
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, firmly packed light brown sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Place butter in a small skillet over medium heat. Cook 6 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Pour into a small bowl, and cool 10 minutes.

Combine butter and egg substitute, stirring with a whisk. Pour butter mixture over flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray; smooth top with spatula. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into 24 squares.

Yield : 24 servings (serving size: 1 square)

Nutritional Information Calories:170 (25% from fat) Fat:4.8g (sat 3g,mono 1.2g,poly 0.2g) Protein:1.9g Carbohydrate:30.5g Fiber:0.3g Cholesterol:13mg Iron:1.1mg Sodium:108mg Calcium:45mg

The only thing remotely light about these was the egg substitute and I used real eggs. Sometimes I think Cooking Light should be called Cooking Just A Tad Lighter but every little bit helps I suppose.

These were chewy and delicious. It's hard to say exactly what browning the butter adds since I wasn't doing a side-by-side comparison with a version without browned butter but I bet it added something. These were simple but enjoyable. I took them to work and they went over well. My son passed on them when I told him there wasn't any chocolate in them. The boy likes his chocolate.

Question of the Day: Do you buy egg substitute?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Not bad for oven 'fried'

Homemade Shake-and-Bake Chicken
365 Ways To Cook Chicken Copyright 1986

½ cup flour
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried thyme
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
>4 chicken legs and thighs I used a whole chicken cut up
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, paprika, salt, garlic powder, thyme, and pepper in a plastic bag. Dip chicken legs in milk; shake off excess. Add chicken to bag and shake to coat evenly.

Place chicken on a greased baking sheet. Bake 40 minutes, until chicken is tender and coating crisp. I started skin side down, then flipped the chicken after about 30 minutes.

I've had 365 Ways to Cook Pasta since around the time it was published in the late 80s when I was working in the publisher's warehouse during a college break. We could buy returns for $1 or less. A couple of years ago I picked up 365 Easy Low-Calorie Recipes which is the same style of book from the same publisher. Once I realized how much I liked these books, I decided I wanted the chicken version but it was out of print and even though it's still available from several sources, I never got around to acquiring a copy of it. Last week I picked it up at a yard sale for 25 cents. Score!

I haven't had Shake-and-Bake since I lived at home. My mom liked to buy it, mainly for pork chops but often for chicken too. While this wasn't as salty and 'in-your-face' as I recall Shake-and-Bake to be, it was still pretty good. Though it doesn't do much for the flavor of the chicken meat itself.

I made this last week on Labor Day since we had our cookouts on Saturday and Sunday. So I was able to bake it and put it right on the table which I think was better for the crispy coating but the flavor might have improved if I had cooked it ahead of time.

Question of the Day: Have you ever tried the real Shake and Bake?

Friday, September 11, 2009

Easy and delicious

Chicken and Basil Calzones
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009 Copyright 2008

Cooking spray
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground chicken breast
3/4 cup prepared pizza sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil I used fresh and dried since I didn't have enough fresh
1 (13.8-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425°.

2. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add garlic and chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, stirring to crumble. Stir in pizza sauce and pepper. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in basil. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Unroll dough onto a baking sheet coated with cooking spray; cut dough into quarters. Pat each portion into an 8 x 6–inch rectangle. Divide chicken mixture evenly among rectangles; top each serving with 2 tablespoons cheese. Working with one rectangle at a time, fold dough in half over filling, pinching edges to seal. Repeat procedure with remaining rectangles. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes or until golden.

Nutritional Information Calories:459 (14% from fat) Fat:7.1g (sat 1.8g,mono 1g,poly 0.4g)
Protein:39.1g Carbohydrate:56.4g Fiber:3g Cholesterol:74mg Iron:3.7mg Sodium:919mg


I wasn't all that thrilled with the 2009 Cooking Light Annual when I first looked through it but I've found a couple of winners in it so far. This recipe elicited some positive comments from my husband. He seems to have an affinity for recipes using canned pizza dough. I loved it too and it was very easy. I made the chicken mixture ahead of time so it just took a few minutes to get these in the oven and they were done after less than 15 minutes in the oven.

I really need to use this general idea more often. Back in 2007 I made Chicken Olive Calzones and I wrote 'These calzones were so easy to prepare and I'm already imagining all of the variations I'll be making in the future.' But then I forgot about them. I won't forget this time.

I'll add this recipe to my Ground Chicken Recipe Round-Up.

Question of the Day: What other fillings do you think would be good for these?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our roots are showing again

Kielbasi and Cabbage
Fix-It and Forget-It Big Cookbook Copyright 2008

1 1/2 lb head green cabbage, shredded I used about 1/2 head
2 medium onions, chopped I used about 1 onion
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cubed I didn't peel them
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 lbs. Polish kielbasa sausage, cut into 3-inch long links I used 1 pound of lite kielbasa
28 ounce can cut-up tomatoes with juice
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
¾ tsp. caraway seeds
½ tsp. pepper
¾ tsp. salt

1. Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.
2. Cover. Cook on LOW 7-8 hours or until cabbage is tender.

I couldn't fit everything this recipe called for in my crockpot so I held back on some cabbage and onions. It still made plenty. I wasn't sure if this was going to be all that great. I cooked it on Monday and I thought it seemed okay. I wasn't all that excited about it. We ate it on Wednesday and I thought it was fantastic.

I've mentioned before that my husband's ancestors are from Russia and mine are from Poland so we aren't strangers to eating cabbage and kielbasi, we just usually don't eat them together like this (unless the cabbage has been made into sauerkraut). The flavors though were still very familiar. The broth reminded me of the broth from my husband's grandmother's stuffed cabbage. She uses a bit of sauerkraut but the mustard, wine and tomatoes gave this a similar tangy taste. I wish I had picked up some rye bread to soak up the juice but I had to settle for an Hawaiian sweet roll.

This was relatively healthy too since I used lite kielbasa. Look at all of those healthy vegetables in there! I really love cabbage and I need to find more ways to use it.

Question of the Day: Do you like cabbage? What recipes with cabbage do you like?

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Easier than wrapping tamales

Chicken Tamale Casserole
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009 Copyright 2008

1 cup (4 ounces) preshredded 4-cheese Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/3 cup fat-free milk I used 1%
1/4 cup egg substitute I used 1 egg
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
1 (8.5-ounce) box corn muffin mix (such as Martha White) I used Jiffy
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce (such as Old El Paso)
2 cups shredded cooked chicken breast I used a bit more
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream I bought lite sour cream but I forgot to use it!

1. Preheat oven to 400°.
2. Combine 1/4 cup cheese and next 7 ingredients (through chiles) in a large bowl, stirring just until moist. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until set. Pierce entire surface liberally with a fork; pour enchilada sauce over top. I poured about 3/4 of the enchilada sauce over the base, then I poured the remainder over the chicken after I added it. Top with chicken; sprinkle with remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes or until cheese melts. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes. Cut into 8 pieces; top each serving with 1 tablespoon sour cream.

Calories: 354 (36% from fat) Fat: 14.1g (sat 7.1g,mono 3.3g,poly 1.2g) Protein: 18.9g Carbohydrate:36.3g Fiber:2.5g Cholesterol:58mg Iron:1.7mg Sodium:620mg Calcium:179mg

A couple of weeks ago I defrosted some chicken breasts to make grilled chicken but I forgot to marinate them that morning and then that evening kindergarten orientation ran longer (and was more emotionally grueling) than I had anticipated so we hit McDonald's instead. I poached the chicken and threw it in the freezer. I brought it out to make this recipe.

I did need to purchase quite a few things to make this - the corn muffin mix, the creamed corn, the enchilada sauce, the chilis, the cheese, the sour cream (which I forgot to use) but at least none of those items were expensive. It was getting boring trying not to buy any new ingredients.

I made this ahead of time and reheated it in the microwave. It turned out nice. The base was creamy and flavorful and the chicken, which I thought might be dry, wasn't since the enchilada sauce and cheese kept it moist. I was afraid the layers wouldn't mesh but they did.

Question of the Day: Do you like tamales?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I almost forgot

Today is my 4 year blogiversary! Unfortunately I haven't updated my archives in quite some time so I'm not sure of my exact current stats but I've cooked somewhere in the vicinity of 900 recipes out of approximately 300 cookbooks.

Wow, my fifth year starts now.

Three day weekends don't agree with me

I always seem to fall apart by Monday whenever a 3-day weekend comes around. I did cook and I have lots to post about this week but I just never got around to getting anything on the computer.

I had a request for these Glazed Chocolate Chip Brownies:

I split them up between two small cookouts but personally I wasn't in the mood for anything that sweet this weekend.

I keep trying to get into the fall mood but I'm just not ready to say good-bye to summer.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Good but not the best

Lemon Chicken
Quick and Easy Chinese Copyright 2008

1½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black or white pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/3 cup vegetable oil

For the lemon sauce:
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup chicken stock
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger (optional) I used jarred ginger
1 teaspoon soy sauce
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions Dang! I forgot to buy these. They were sold out the first time I tried.

Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork or a whisk to mix everything well. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise and on the diagonal to make wide, thin pieces. Dip each piece of chicken into the flour and coat it well, and then gently shake off any excess. Arrange floured chicken pieces on a large plate and set by the stove.

To make the lemon sauce: Conbine the water and cornstarch in a small bowl and stir well. In a medium saucepan, combine the chicken stock, sugar, ginger (if using), soy sauce and salt. Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, and stir to dissolve the sugar and salt and mix well. Stir in the lemon juice, and as soon as the sauce is boiling gently again, add the cornstarch. Cook, stirring often, as the sauce turns cloudy, then clean and thickens to a shiny, glossy state, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover, and keep warm while you prepare the chicken.

To cook the chicken, heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, until a pinch of flour dropped into the oil blossoms at once. Cook in batches, placing pieces of chicken in the oil (the should sizzle immediately), and leaving a little room between so you can turn them easily and avoid crowding the pan. Cook until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side until golden and crisp, and cooked through, and then transfer the cooked chicken pieces to a serving platter as they are done. Cook the remaining chicken the same way.

Pour the hot lemon sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with the green onion and serve hot.

This was good but honestly, it wasn't as good as Baked Lemon Chicken. I prefer the other lemon sauce and the baked chicken is probably even better, with a nicer coating, than this fried version. Again, today's recipe was very good, but the Baked Lemon Chicken is one of my favorite recipes. I really shouldn't have attempted another version but you never know.

I had a couple of minor problems with this recipe. First of all, 1 1/2 cups of flour to coat a pound of chicken breasts lightly? What a waste. I didn't make the chicken until after work so I was feeling a bit rushed or I would have caught that and halved the flour mixture and even that would have been way too much.

The recipe also made a lot more sauce than needed. Even though it was good, that much sauce just wasn't necessary - the recipe makes almost 2 cups. That was plenty to cover the chicken and rice with a lot extra.

Last night I grabbed some hamburger patties out of the freezer for tonight because I had nothing else planned. I got stumped last week while menu planning. I hate not having everything planned ahead. Last night I only needed to plan 3 recipes for next week and I was still stumped. I had to take a break from the 'use up what I have' angle of menu planning because it wasn't getting me anywhere. It was getting boring too.

Question of the Day: Do you like Chinese food? What do you usually order? That's the same question I asked when I made the Baked Lemon Chicken but it's been over 2 years so maybe you have a new answer or maybe you weren't around two years ago.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A lighter baked pasta

Baked Pasta with Sausage, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2008 Copyright 2007

1 (1-pound) package uncooked ziti (short tube-shaped pasta) I used Smart Taste Penne, 14.5 oz box
1 pound hot turkey Italian sausage links I used mild lean chicken sausage and added some red pepper flakes
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (14.5-ounce) cans petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
Cooking spray
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded fresh mozzarella cheese I used non-fresh part-skim
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350°.

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the pasta, and set aside.

Remove casings from sausage. Cook sausage, onion, and garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until browned, stirring to crumble. Add the tomato paste, salt, pepper, and tomatoes, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Combine cooked pasta, sausage mixture, and basil. Place half of the pasta mixture in a 4-quart casserole coated with cooking spray. Top with half of mozzarella and half of Parmesan. Repeat layers. Bake at 350° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. I just cooked it until the cheese melted.

Nutritional Information Calories:413 (26% from fat)Fat:11.8g (sat 6.1g,mono 2.2,poly g) Protein:24.1g Carbohydrate:53g Fiber:4.5g Cholesterol:49mg Iron:7.9mg Sodium:941mg Calcium:265mg

I was looking for a recipe to use up a package of chicken sausage that I bought on clearance a while back and stuck in the freezer. I found this recipe. It was perfect. I only needed to buy the pasta and tomatoes. I had just enough mozzarella cheese leftover from something else in the deli drawer. My produce-section basil plant was miraculously still alive after several weeks too. I have a very brown thumb and have never had one last more than a week before. This may have been it's last hurrah though. It doesn't seem to be producing much anymore. I got my $2.50 worth. Maybe next year I will start a small herb garden outside.

I was really pleased with this recipe. It wasn't too heavy for a baked pasta dish. This dish called for a lot less cheese than most baked pasta dishes but it was plenty enough. Hopefully I'll remember that next time a recipe calls for a lot of cheese and I'll cut back.

The baby really liked this, my older son not so much. I think it was him and not the recipe. His eating has been very off with the excitement of starting school.

Speaking of my son, food and school, the poor kid has to eat lunch all alone at a peanut-free table since he's the only one in the school with a peanut allergy. The first day he didn't seem to mind, the second day he seemed a little bothered. I made it clear that I'd prefer he didn't eat alone and a small peanut-free zone was fine but I'm not going to fault the school for being too cautious. As any reaction at school would be their responsibility, they should set their own comfort zone. It still hurts me to know that he's eating lunch alone. At least it's only 25 minutes (God forbid they give them an entire 30 minutes to eat lunch).

Question of the Day: Did you buy the school's hot lunch? Brown bag? Go home for lunch? I was a hot lunch kid since I qualified for the free or reduced lunch.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Eggless meat loaf

Tomato Meat Loaf
The Congressional Club Cook Book Copyright 1976

2 ½ cups condensed tomato soup I just used one 10 oz can and that was enough
1 pound hamburger
½ cup cracker crumbs
1 small onion
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

Mix ½ cup soup with other ingredients and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Use remaining soup as a topping to the meat loaf the last 13 minutes of baking time. I baked it in a loaf pan lined with parchment and poured the rest of the can of soup on it before baking. Then I chilled and grilled it.

Makes 8 servings.

This picture probably won't appeal to most people. These pieces got a little dark in the Griddler but I'm my father's daughter and I actually like the burned bits so I didn't mind eating these. I didn't burn every piece. God forbid you give my older son anything with 'brown stuff' on it - even just the well-cooked outer edge of a pot roast. He doesn't like the stiffer texture I guess. He just started complaining about that lately. He does not take after his Pop Pop (who favors browned, crispy food.)

I love meat loaf as regular readers probably know. This was one of the simplest meat loaf recipes that I've tried but it was good. I like that it only used one pound of meat (so many meat loaf recipes ask for 1 1/2 or 2 pounds). I thought it was interesting that it was egg-free. That might be a problem serving it straight from the oven but after chilling this, it was easy to slice for the Griddler. It was nice and tender but held it's shape.

This is an interesting cookbook that was complied for the Bicentennial in 1976 (although many other editions before and after that have been published). The recipes are mostly old-fashioned family fare. I think the legislators (well, mainly their wives) who submitted recipes probably didn't want to seem too high-falutin' but that's just speculation on my part.

This is one of those cookbooks that appeals to me for unknown reasons. It's hardcover but very plain. No food photos or illustrations. I think it's the bit of historical appeal too. It was signed by one of the editors and I looked it up and she was the wife of a former Representative, Herman Schneebeli, who was from only about an hour away from here. My county was in his district. Not too coincidental I suppose considering I think I picked this book up at that flea market in Harrisburg, the state capital, in the same county.

I'm just not quite up to cooking par this week. I still have one day open that I haven't planned for. That is very unusual.

Question of the Day: Do you have any food texture quirks? My moods may change but I don't really avoid any particular food texture.