Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Glazed Salmon

From Simple and Delicious (Jan./Feb. 2010), page 23.

Prep: 5-10 min. / Cook: 10-15 min.
Yield: 4 servings
We really liked this recipe--the sauce was wonderful and really complemented the salmon, adding to it but not overpowering it.  Delicious!  It's amazing to think that it's so easy and calls for so few ingredients, which is always a plus.

4 salmon fillets (6 oz. each)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tbs. brown sugar
2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. ground cumin

Sprinkle both sides of salmon with salt and pepper; place in greased 11x17" dish.  Combine the remaining ingredients; spoon over fillets.

Bake, uncovered, at 400F for 10-15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Nutrition Facts:
1 fillet = 349 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 100 mg cholesterol, 432 mg sodium, 9 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 34 g protein

- There's not really a reason to measure out the salt and pepper in this case.  Just sprinkle on some salt and grind some pepper over the fish--you'll be good.
- I cooked this for exactly 15 minutes, and it was perfect!

Creamy Spinach Noodle Toss

From Simple and Delicious (Jan./Feb. 2010), page 23.

Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
Yield: 4-6 servings
1 1/2 cups uncooked egg noodles
2 bacon strips, diced
2 tsp. finely chopped onion
2 Tbs. + 1/2 tsp. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt-free seasoning blend (like Mrs. Dash)
1/8 tsp. salt
Dash pepper
1 1/4 cups milk
1 pkg. (9 oz.) fresh baby spinach
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook noodles according to package directions.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon and onion over medium heat until bacon is crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain.

Stir the flour, seasoning blend, salt and pepper into drippings until blended; gradually add milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened.  Add spinach; cook and stir until spinach is wilted.

Drain noodles; transfer to a serving bowl.  Add spinach mixture and cheese; toss to combine.  Sprinkle with bacon mixture.

Nutrition Facts:
3/4 cup = 267 calories, 12 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 44 mg cholesterol, 491 mg sodium, 25 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 15 g protein

- As you probably noticed, I didn't have egg noodles and instead used piccolini (mini wheels).  Really, use whatever pasta you have on hand.
- This is a great opportunity to use any dry minced onion you have.  Measure about 1 tsp. and let it sit in warm water for a couple minutes.  Drain and add to the recipe as written.
- I don't know why so many recipes call for "grated" Parmesan--it makes me think of the dry stuff in the plastic jar.  I use shredded.
- Sadly, this isn't quite as good as leftovers (though it's not bad).  The spinach starts to overpower the other flavors a little bit.

Cookie Pretzel Peanut Clusters

From Simple and Delicious (Aug./Sept. 2010), page 55.

Prep: 15 min. + standing
Yield: 7-8 dozen
My Cub Scouts literally devoured these and kept asking for more, so I guess they're a hit with the kids!

1 1/4 lbs. white candy coating, coarsely chopped
3 cups pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
1 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts
14 Oreos, broken into chunks

Melt candy coating in a large glass bowl in the microwave; stir until smooth.  Stir in the pretzels, peanuts, and cookies.

Drop by tablespoonfuls into miniature paper liners or onto waxed paper.  Let stand until set.  Store in an airtight container.

Nutrition Facts (for 8 dozen):
1 piece = 58 calories, 3 g fat (2 g saturated fat), trace cholesterol, 51 mg sodium, 7 g carbohydrate, trace fiver, 1 g protein

- I'm not sure if it was because my peanuts were old or stale or something, but I didn't really like them in this recipe.  Next time I'd consider omitting them or replacing them with something else (cashews, Chex, cheerios, almonds, etc.).  Or maybe I'd use some that I knew were "fresh."
- Fourteen Oreos?  Ha!  I used at least 20!
- The packaging for the candy coating should give you melting instructions, but usually you start at a minute, stir, and then continue microwaving in 30-second intervals.
- I'm thinking that Mint Oreos would be really good in this.  Mmmm.

Salmon Burger with Hoisin Barbecue Sauce and Pickled Ginger and Napa Slaw

From Bobby Flay's Burgers, Fries, and Shakes, page 71.

Serves 4.
This burger is possibly one of my favorites from Bobby Flay's cookbook.  It combines really great flavors for a unique and tasty Asian-style burger.

Hoisin Barbecue Sauce
2 Tbs. canola oil
2 large shallots, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup hoisin sauce
2 Tbs. ketchup
2 Tbs. honey
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. fish sauce
1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar

Salmon Burgers
1 1/2 lbs. fresh salmon
2 Tbs. canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns, split; toasted, if desired

2 Tbs. canola oil
1/4 cup sliced pickled ginger, plus more for garnish if desired
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/4 small head of red cabbage, finely shredded
1/2 medium head of napa cabbage, finely shredded
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves

To make the hoisin barbecue sauce, heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and garlic and cook until soft, about 2 minutes.  Add the hoisin, ketchup, honey, soy sauce, fish sauce, and vinegar and cook until heated through and slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.  Set aside to cool.  The sauce can be made 1 day in advance, covered, and refrigerated.  Bring to room temperature before using.

To form the burgers, cut the salmon into large pieces and then coarsely chop in a food processor.  Do not over-process.  (Alternatively, you can chop it by hand with a sharp knife.)  Divide the salmon into 4 equal portions.  Form each portion loosely into a 3/4"-thick burger and make a deep depression in the center with your thumb.  Place on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and let chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Meanwhile, make the slaw by heating the oil in a large saute pan over high heat.  Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring once, until soft, about 1 minute.  Stir in the cabbage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring once, until slightly wilted, 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar, sesame oil, and cilantro.  Let sit at room temperature.

To cook the burgers, heat the oil in a saute pan or griddle (nonstick or cast iron) until it begins to shimmer.  Season both sides of each burger with salt and pepper.  Cook the burgers until golden brown on the bottom sides, about 3 minutes.  Turn over, brush with some of the hoisin barbecue sauce, and continue cooking until medium-well, about 3 minutes longer.

Place the burgers on the bun bottoms, drizzle some hoisin barbecue sauce over them, and top with the slaw.  Garnish with pickled ginger, if desired.  Cover with burger tops and serve immediately.

- I used frozen salmon, and it still tasted great.  So use what you've got!  If you're in a hurry and all you've got are frozen salmon patties, you could probably even use them (though I doubt it would be quite as good).
- Be very, very careful not to turn your salmon into paste.  If you use a food processor, I recommend looking over the instructions for chopping meat prior to doing it so you have an idea of how long to pulse the meat.
- I don't know how Bobby manages to keep the salmon firm enough to that deep depression with his thumb; it was all I could do to keep the patties together!  We set each one on an individual square of wax paper on the plate to make moving them into the pan easier when the time came.
- When recipes use a sauce to baste cooking meat and dip or drizzle later, I always separate the sauce into two bowls (one for basting and one for serving) to avoid contamination.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Garlic-Herb Braid

From Simple and Delicious (Jan./Feb. 2010), page 58.

Prep: 20 min. + rising / Bake: 20 min.
Yield: 1 loaf (16 slices)
I do not have a talent for yeast breads, but this was seriously one of the best endeavors I ever made in that area.  Although it takes a little while (for rising), this bread is actually quite easy to make and well worth the effort.  It is delicious!

4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbs. sugar
2 pkg. (1/4 oz. each) quick-rise yeast
2 tsp. dried basil
1 3/4 tsp. dill weed
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
2/3 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg
1 Tbs. butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and seasonings.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and cubed butter to 120-130F.  Add to dry ingredients; beat just until moistened.  Add egg; beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; kneed until sooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes.  Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into thirds.  Shape each into a 15" rope.  Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 25 minutes.

Bake at 375F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush with melted butter.  Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool.

Nutrition Facts:
1 slice = 169 calories, 5 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 24 mg cholesterol, 257 mg sodium, 27 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 4 g protein.

- I used rapid-rise yeast, which I think is the same as quick-rise.
- Because I love basil, it is possible that I was a little heavy handed on the 2 tsp. that the recipe calls for.
- Did I crush my dried rosemary?  No, but perhaps doing so would release more flavor . . . ?
- I never buy 2% milk, but for the sake of posting the published nutrition facts, I've been specific.
- I did all the mixing in my Kitchen-Aid using the paddle attachment.  Typically I'd switch to the dough hook after a while, but I decided to actually knead the bread by hand this time where the recipe calls for it.
- The temperature of the liquids is actually important--not warm enough and your yeast won't do the job; too warm and you'll kill it.  I clipped a meat thermometer inside my pot to watch the temperature, making sure that it didn't touch the bottom of the pan.  Be careful once things reach the right temperature, though; I had to let mine cool down a little before adding it to the dry ingredients because things got hot quickly.
- I'm pretty sure I ended up using all 4 1/2 cups of flour, but don't assume that you will.  I've learned that sometimes you need it all and sometimes you don't.  Perhaps it depends on the weather.
- My ropes weren't quite long enough, I think, because I was only able to get three braids out of them.  The picture in the magazine has five, which looks so much cooler.

Santa Fe Chicken Pita Pizzas

From Healthy Cooking (April/May 2009), page 65.

Prep: 10 min. / Cook: 8-10 min.
Yield: 4 servings
4 whole wheat pita breads
1/2 cup refried black beans
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup cubed cooked chicken breast
2 Tbs. chopped green chilies
2 Tbs. sliced ripe olives
3/4 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 green onion, thinly sliced

Place pita breads on foil-lined baking sheet; spread with beans.  Top with salsa, chicken, chilies, olives, and cheese.

Bake at 350F for 8-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Top with sour cream and onion.

- I've used pita pockets as well as Greek-style pita bread, and they both taste great.  I prefer to use whole wheat.
- Refried black beans?  I've never seen anything labeled as such, so I just use refried beans.
- I have used canned chicken breast as well as Baked Slow Cooker Chicken in this recipe.
- Although I've typed the recipe as it is written, I don't measure any of the ingredients.
- Other good toppings: avocado, tomato, cilantro, corn, black beans.
- Although it's better on the pitas, I have used English muffins in their place.
- This could easily be made into a meatless entree.
- Meatless Version: Omit chicken.  Add black beans and peppers.

Scrumptious Vegetable Lasagna

Adapted from Healthy Cooking (Feb./March 2010), page 49.

Prep: 45 min. + resting / Bake: 40 min. + standing
Yield: 12 servings
 9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 medium yellow summer squash, cut into 1/4" slices
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4" slices
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 medium sweet onion, diced
1 eggplant, thinly sliced
1 sweet potato, thinly sliced
1 yam, thinly sliced
1 Tbs. olive oil
1 jar (25 oz) marinara sauce
1 carton (15 oz) fat-free ricotta cheese
12 slices reduced-fat provolone cheese, halved
2 cups (8 oz) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Arrange slices of eggplant on wire racks over paper towels; liberally salt both sides and allow to rest for about 1 hour.  Squeeze out excess moisture.  Chop.

Cook noodles according to package directions.

Meanwhile, boil sweet potato and yam slices in salted water until softened but not all the way cooked.  Drain carefully.

Heat oil in a large skillet; saute squash, zucchini, onion, and eggplant until tender.  Add mushrooms during the last minute or two.  Gently stir in sweet potato and yam.

Drain noodles.  Rinse in cold water and drain again.

Spread 1/4 cup marinara in an 11x17" baking dish coated with cooking spray.  Top with six noodles, 1 cup marinara sauce, 1/3 vegetable mixture, 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 8 half slices of provolone cheese, 2/3 cup mozzarella cheese, and 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese.  Repeat layers twice, or until you run out of ingredients.

Cover and bake at 375F for 30 minutes.  Uncover; bake 10-15 minutes longer or until bubbly.  Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.

- Yes, there is a difference between sweet potatoes and yams.  But I guess you could use two of one of them if you prefer.  I just couldn't decide which one I wanted, so I used one of each.
- I made this in two 8x8" baking dishes and froze one of them.  I'm assuming you could make it in an 11x17" dish.
- I'm totally guessing at measurements in the layering process, to tell you the truth.  I was in a hurry and had modified the recipe enough that I didn't bother with exact amounts at that point.  It probably wouldn't hurt to have more marinara sauce than the recipe lists, though.
- I would use more sauce next time.

Chicken Fajita Salad Wraps

From the Betty Crocker 2010 calendar.

Prep: 30 min / Cook: 0 min
Yield: 8 wraps

These were super easy and quite delicious!  Perfect for a hot summer night when you don't feel like cooking--or any other night, for that matter.

Chipotle-Lime Dressing
1/2 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 Tbs. finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
2 Tbs. chopped cilantro
Juice and zest from 1 lime

3 cups chopped cold deli rotisserie chicken (from 2-2 1/2 lb chicken)
2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce
1 (11 oz) can southwestern style corn
1 small tomato, seeded and chopped
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Flour tortillas
Salsa, if desired
Sour cream, if desired

In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients; set aside.

In a large bowl, stir together chicken, lettuce, corn, and tomato.  Add dressing and toss to coat.

To assemble each wrap, spoon 1/8 of chicken mixture down center of each tortilla; top with cheese, salsa, and sour cream.  Roll up.

- This is my modified version of the recipe; click the link under the title if you want the original.
- I used chicken from the
Baked Slow Cooker Chicken recipe instead of buying a rotisserie chicken.
- Because we didn't plan to eat all 8 servings in one sitting, we decided to mix the dressing into the filling  as we ate it.  This kept it from getting all soggy.
- We ate this in freshly cooked
Tortilla Land Uncooked Flour Tortillas, which we bought at Costco.  So delicious.  Regular tortillas will never be the same.

- Meatless Version: Replace chicken with black beans, kidney beans, or pinto peans.

Baked Slow Cooker Chicken

Adapted from AllRecipes.com, submitted by "Cotton" Couch.

Prep: 5-10 min. / Cook: 9-11 hours 
1 whole chicken (2-3 lbs)

1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 cup chicken broth

1 tsp. paprika
Salt & pepper to taste

Loosely wad up aluminum foil into 3-4" pieces.  Place in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Rinse chicken, inside and out; pat dry with paper towels.  Season with salt, pepper, and paprika.  Place in slow cooker on top of aluminum foil.

Cook on high for 1 hour, then switch to low and cook for another 8-10 hours, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.

- I didn't measure anything for this recipe, not even the chicken.  I just made sure it fit in my crock pot.
- Use your imagination for other "flavors" of chicken.
- This is a great recipe when you want a roasted chicken but don't want to heat up your kitchen.
- I divided up the meat into bags and froze it for later.  Excellent idea, as I've got a bunch of recipes that call for rotisserie chicken and I don't want to buy it (granted, this isn't quite rotisserie, but it worked just fine).
- A word of caution: Don't cook it overnight.  I made that mistake and ended up having the smell permeate my dreams (no joke).  By the time we woke up in the morning, both of us felt sick and neither of us wanted to eat chicken.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cherry Tarts (Sue Bendixen)

From Sue Bendixen.

Prep: 10 min. + chilling. / Cook: 12 min.
Yield: 3 dozen tarts
I got this recipe from the mother of one of my best friends.  She was wonderful enough to make a billion of these for our wedding reception.  Almond extract is an elegant addition to the chewy-crunchy shells and the light, cheesecake-like filling.

1 1/2 tsp. almond extract
3/4 cup softened butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 small egg white
3/4 cup + 2 Tbs. flour

Blend together almond extract, butter, sugar, and egg white.  Add flour.

Chill dough at least 1 hour.  Press dough into and up sides greased small tart molds or mini muffin pans.

Bake for about 12 minutes at 350 F.  Cool 1-2 minutes in tart pan, then turn upside-down over a towel and knock the shells out.

4 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla or almond extract
1 cup cream, whipped
1 can cherry pie filling

Blend together cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla or almond extract.  Fold in whipped cream.

Fill tart shells with cream cheese filling.  Top each with 1 cherry plus a little cherry sauce.

Nutrition Facts (using regular cream cheese & heavy whipping cream):
1 tart = 136 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 31 mg cholesterol, 51 mg sodium, 11.5 g carbohydrate, 0 g fiber, 8.5 g sugar, 1 g protein

- If you buy large eggs, don't use all of the egg white.  (Don't toss the unused egg yolk--use it to make Alton Brown's "The Chewy" chocolate chip cookies.  You can freeze it for later if you want.)
- I divide my dough into three equal portions on wax paper, pressing and shaping them into rectangles so that I can easily cut them after their chilled.
- The dough softens very quickly once it's out of the fridge (especially if your hands are warm or it's a warm day).  I tend to put my tart an in the freezer for a few minutes before pressing the dough into it.  I also tend to only make one pan of shells a day because it's next to impossible to get the dough to hold its shape when you press it into a hot tart pan.
- Tart shells may be frozen for future use.
- Try using other fruit pie fillings or fresh fruit.
- I typically double the whole recipe and have a small amount of filling left over.
- Filled tarts don't hold up well for more than a day (they get soggy), so only make as many as you think will be eaten by the end of the day.
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