Sunday, December 02, 2012

Acorn Squash and Pear Soup

From Taste of Home

2 medium acorn squash, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
4 medium firm pears, peeled and coarsely chopped
3 celery ribs, thinly sliced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 carton (48 ounces) chicken broth

In a large bowl, combine the first nine ingredients; toss to coat. Transfer to a greased shallow roasting pan. Roast at 375° for 1-1/4 hours or until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.

Cool slightly. In a food processor, process squash mixture with broth in batches until smooth. Transfer to a Dutch oven; heat through, stirring occasionally.

I halved this one as well because we're just two people here. We can only eat so much. Anyway, the worst part of this recipe is the squash. Holy hell, those are a pain in the ass to peel and chop up! Once that hurdle is cleared it's easy sailing. The house smelled heavenly as the mixture roasted. I took it out a little shy of the 1 1/4 time as it was beginning to get kind of crispy on the edges. It's got a sweet overtone from the pears but overall it's really good. I did add a few good grinds of black pepper to my bowl and I cooked up some crusty rolls for dipping.

Turkey Burgers with Roasted Eggplant

From Cooking Light

1 (8-ounce) eggplant
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley, divided
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 pound turkey tenderloins, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 teaspoon less-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon Marmite
4 (1 1/2-ounce) hamburger buns, toasted
4 Bibb lettuce leaves
4 (1/4-inch-thick) tomato slices

1. Preheat oven to 400°.

2. Lightly coat eggplant with cooking spray; wrap eggplant in foil. Place eggplant on a jelly-roll pan; bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until very tender, turning once. Remove from foil; cool slightly. Cut eggplant in half. Carefully scoop out pulp to measure 1 1/4 cups; discard skin. Place pulp in a food processor; process until smooth. Reserve 1/4 cup pureed pulp. Combine remaining pulp, 1 tablespoon parsley, 2 teaspoons oil, juice, and garlic. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside.

3. To prepare grinder, place feed shaft, blade, and 1/4-inch die plate in freezer 30 minutes or until well chilled. Assemble the grinder just before grinding.

4. Arrange turkey pieces in a single layer on jelly-roll pan, leaving space between each piece. Freeze 15 minutes or until meat is firm but not frozen. Combine meat and remaining 2 teaspoons oil in large bowl; toss to combine. Pass meat through meat grinder completely. Immediately pass meat through grinder a second time. Combine reserved 1/4 cup eggplant puree, turkey, remaining 1 tablespoon parsley, soy sauce, and Marmite in a large bowl. Divide mixture into 4 equal portions, gently shaping each into a 1/2-inch-thick patty. Press a nickel-sized indentation in the center of each patty. Cover and chill until ready to grill.

5. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

6. Lightly coat patties with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place patties on grill rack, and grill 4 minutes until well marked. Carefully turn patties over, and grill 3 minutes or until done. Place 1 patty on bottom half of each bun; top each serving with 1 tablespoon eggplant mixture, 1 lettuce leaf, 1 tomato slice, and top half of bun. (Reserve remaining eggplant mixture for another use.)

Ok, who really grinds their own turkey? Please... quit making the rest of us look like lazy cooks. Go to the grocery store and buy Jennie O like a normal person. Anyway, a little time-consuming on the eggplant prep (I actually ended up roasting and pureeing it the night before.) Good results, if not exactly earth-shattering. The eggplant in the burger itself is pretty much invisible. The condiment on top is interesting, but not really the best thing I ever ate. I do have some leftover tortillas so I plan to use the leftovers as a dip. We'll see how that goes.

Crunchy Baked Flounder

From Cooking Light

1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 flounder fillets (1 1/2 lb.)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 425°F. Mist bottom of a large baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Combine panko, Parmesan and butter in a small bowl and stir mixture well.

Sprinkle both sides of flounder generously with salt and pepper. Arrange fish in prepared baking dish. Sprinkle panko-Parmesan mixture over fish. Bake until fish is cooked through and crumbs are golden, about 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Seriously easiest dish ever. I don't know that I've ever had flounder before and while I'd say it's "fishier" than pollock or cod, it was still bland enough that I could eat a piece of it without smothering it in Miracle Whip. Man, I wish I liked fish more because it's supposed to be so good for you...

Sloppy Joes

From Eating Well

12 ounces 90%-lean ground beef
1 large onion, finely diced
2 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms, (about 4 ounces)
5 plum tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup chili sauce, such as Heinz
1/4 cup ketchup
8 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted if desired

Crumble beef into a large nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat until it starts to sizzle, about 1 minute. Add onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are soft and the moisture has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add tomatoes and flour; stir to combine. Stir in water, vinegar, chili sauce and ketchup and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the onion is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm on buns.

A different spin on sloppy joes, and I've got to say these are MUCH better than the usual ground beef + prefab spice packet deal. I didn't even mind the mushrooms. Much. I'm still working on actually liking them. I think I went a little crazy with the chili sauce and it burned a little, but it was still good. Leftovers were great with tortilla chips too!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brunch Strata

From Taste of Home

(not the best photo, I know...)

1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
3 small zucchini, chopped
2 medium onions, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
1 medium green pepper, chopped
2 cups cubed fully cooked ham
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 packages (8 ounces each) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup half-and-half cream
12 eggs, lightly beaten
4 cups cubed day-old bread
3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

In a Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and ham; cook and stir until vegetables are tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Drain and pat dry.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and cream until smooth. Gradually beat in eggs. Stir in the remaining ingredients and vegetable mixture.

Transfer to two greased 11-in. x 7-in. baking dishes. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

I halved this recipe because, good gracious, I don't need that many leftovers! Once again, a good deal of prep work, but yielding a satisfactory result. I do think it needs... something. I'm not altogether sure what that might be. Adam voted for more meat. I'm thinking it just needs a flavor boost with some herbs or something.

Chicken Breasts with Cranberry Quinoa

From Taste of Home

2 cups chicken broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 fresh thyme sprig
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 green onions, chopped
1 celery rib, chopped
2/3 cup dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped dried apricots
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2-1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup water
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large tart apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 tablespoons butter
6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a small saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Add quinoa and thyme. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from the heat; fluff with a fork. Discard thyme.

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add green onions and celery; cook and stir until tender. Add cooked quinoa. Stir in the dried fruits, lemon juice, lemon peel and salt.

In a large saucepan, mix the first six chicken ingredients until smooth. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until slightly thickened. Add the apple, cranberries and walnuts. Stir in preserves and butter until melted.

Cut a pocket horizontally in the thickest part of each chicken breast. Fill each with 2-3 tablespoons quinoa mixture; secure with toothpicks. Place remaining quinoa mixture in a greased 1-qt. baking dish; cover with foil. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Carefully brown stuffed chicken on both sides. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; pour apple mixture over top.

Bake chicken and quinoa, at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in chicken reads 170° and quinoa is heated through. Serve chicken with quinoa. Discard toothpicks before serving.

A little labor intensive, but so worth it. I skipped the "stuffing" part and just cooked the quinoa mixture underneath the chicken. Such a great mix of flavors and textures. I'd definitely make this one again.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Adam Cooks: Cranberry Meringue Pie

From Eating Well

3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour (see Tip) or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened

1 12-ounce bag cranberries, fresh or frozen, thawed
1 cup orange juice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
3 large eggs, separated

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.

To prepare crust: Stir flour, 1/2 cup sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Stir in oil and butter with a fork until well blended and crumbly (it should look like wet sand). Using the back of a spoon, firmly press the dough into the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake the crust until it just begins to brown, about 20 minutes. (Keep the oven on for Step 4.)

To prepare filling: Meanwhile, combine cranberries and orange juice in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until all the cranberries are beginning to break down, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl, pressing on the solids to extract all the juice. Whisk 3/4 cup sugar into the juice until combined. Whisk in whole egg and 3 egg yolks. Return the cranberry mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly and vigorously, until it thickens and just starts to bubble as you are stirring, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour the warm filling into the warm crust. Set aside while you prepare the meringue topping.

To prepare topping: Beat the 3 egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar and pinch of salt and beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Very slowly add 1/3 cup sugar, beating constantly, until the mixture holds stiff, shiny peaks. Beat in vanilla. Spoon the meringue over the filling, then gently spread to the edges of the crust. Make peaks in the meringue with the back of a spoon or a small off-set spatula. Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Cool the pie on a wire rack to room temperature, at least 3 hours, before serving.

This is what we brought to the Dodds Thanksgiving on Thursday. It was absolutely delicious. Perfect balance of sweet and tart, wonderfully executed meringue. And I can take no credit whatsoever. All I did was separate a few eggs...

Adam Cooks: Rosemary Dinner Rolls

From Taste of Home

1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water (110° to 115°)
3 cups bread flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary, divided
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup warm 2% milk (110° to 115°)
1 egg
1/4 to 1/3 cup canola oil

1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons 2% milk

In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Place the flour, sugar, 2 teaspoons rosemary and salt in a food processor; pulse until blended. Add the warm milk, egg and yeast mixture; cover and pulse 10 times or until almost blended.

While processing, gradually add oil just until dough pulls away from sides and begins to form a ball. Process 2 minutes longer to knead dough (dough will be very soft).

Transfer dough to a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface; divide and shape into 12 balls. Roll each into a 15-in. rope. Starting at one end, loosely wrap dough around itself to form a coil. Tuck end under; pinch to seal.

Place 2 in. apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

For egg wash, in a small bowl, whisk egg yolk and milk; brush over rolls. Sprinkle with remaining rosemary. Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks; serve warm.

This is our contribution to the Paalman Thanksgiving being held this afternoon. His mom told us to bring two dozen rolls and Adam kind of ran with it. We tried one last night when they came out of the oven. Pretty tasty!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Pecan Apple Pancakes

From Taste of Home

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground mace
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1-3/4 cups shredded peeled apples
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a large bowl, mix the first nine ingredients. In another bowl, whisk the eggs, buttermilk and oil until blended. Add to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Stir in apples and pecans.

Lightly grease a griddle; heat over medium-low heat. Pour batter by 1/4 cupfuls onto griddle. Cook until bubbles on top begin to pop and bottoms are golden brown. Turn; cook until second side is golden brown.

Yield: 18 pancakes.

Mis-reading of the recipe that resulted in a few gargantuan-sized pancakes aside, these were really good. Different than my usual pancake recipe, much more cake-like, but good. Nice textural contrasts with the nuts and apples, nice hint of spice.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Inside-Out Cheeseburgers

From Eating Well

1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat grill to medium-high or preheat the broiler.
2. Combine Cheddar and Gruyere in a small bowl.
3. Gently mix beef, Worcestershire, paprika and pepper in a large bowl, preferably with your hands, without overworking. Shape into 8 thin, 4-inch-wide patties. Mound 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture on each of 4 patties, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Cover each with one of the remaining patties. Crimp and seal the edges closed.
4. To grill: Lightly oil the grill rack. Grill the stuffed patties over medium-high heat, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. (Be sure not to press the burgers as they cook or they’ll split open and the cheese will ooze out.) To broil: Cover a broiler pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Broil the stuffed patties in the upper third of the oven, about 4 minutes per side for medium-well. In either case, let the burgers stand for 5 minutes before serving.

I know I've made some version of this before. Seems to me like it was probably Rachael Ray's recipe. I can never seem to get the burgers to seal completely and I end up with cheese all over my grill pan. Anyway, nothing spectacular here, just meat and cheese. Yummy, yummy cheese.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Turkey, Kale, and Rice Bake

From Eating Well

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts only
1 cup thinly sliced celery
4 cups slivered kale leaves
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup low-fat, no-salt-added cottage cheese
1 cup instant or quick-cooking brown rice
6 ounces smoked turkey breast or smoked tofu, chopped (1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
1 cup shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese

1. Heat oil in a large, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add kale and tomatoes and cook, stirring, until the kale begins to wilt, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cottage cheese, rice, turkey (or tofu), water and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, position rack in upper third of oven; preheat broiler.

3. Stir the rice mixture, increase the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until most of the liquid has evaporated, 10 to 12 minutes. Spread cheese on top. Broil until the cheese is bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.

Adam picked this one after we got a Nook subscription to the magazine. Kind of surprised me, actually. This doesn't seem like his usual area of food choices. It was ok, I guess. I'm not too big a fan of the dark, leafy greens so the kale was a struggle, but overall it was fine. Not sure I'd make it again. Awful lot of prep and effort for something just so-so...

Adam Cooks: Raspberry Gelato


4 cups red raspberries (thawed if frozen)
1 cup granulated sugar
2-1/4 cups half-and-half, divided
6 large egg yolks
1/4 cup fat-free powdered milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 drops red food coloring, optional (will enhance color)

Place raspberries in a food processor fitted with the metal "s" blade or in a blender (if using a blender, 2 cups at a time for best results). Process until completely puréed and smooth. Press raspberry purée through a fine mesh sieve or chinois with a wooden spoon or spatula. Discard seeds -- you will have approximately 2 cups red raspberry purée; reserve.

Place the sugar and 1 1/4 cups of the half-and-half in a 2 1/2 quart saucepan with a heavy bottom. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Keep warm over low heat. Place the egg yolks in a medium bowl and whisk until thickened, about 2 minutes (can use a hand or stand mixer fitted with the whip on low speed). While whisking, add 1/2 cup of the hot half-and-half/sugar mixture and whisk until blended. Stir the egg mixture back into the saucepan; increase heat to medium. Stir the mixture constantly with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is thickened like a custard sauce and registers 180 °F when checked with an instant-read thermometer.

Stir in remaining half-and-half, powdered milk and heavy cream.

Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer; stir in reserved raspberry purée, vanilla, and food coloring. Cover and refrigerate at least 6 hours before continuing.

Turn the machine on; pour mixture into freezer bowl, and let mix until thickened, about 20 to 25 minutes. The gelato will have a soft, creamy texture. If a firmer consistency is desired, transfer the gelato to an airtight container and place in freezer for about 2 hours. Remove from freezer about 15 minutes before serving.

After the wonderful gelato we had at the Venetian in Vegas, Adam got bitten by the gelato bug and decided to pull the poor ice cream maker out of its exile in the basement. It turned out great. It's very rich, so a little goes a long way, but it's not too sweet, not too heavy, a perfect balance.

Mama's Meat Loaf

From Cooking Light

1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (1-ounce) slice white bread, torn into small pieces
1 1/2 pounds ground round
Vegetable cooking spray
1/3 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, tossing to moisten bread. Crumble meat over onion mixture, and stir just until blended. Pack mixture into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Spread ketchup over top of loaf. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until meat loaf registers 160°. Let loaf stand in pan 10 minutes.

Remove meat loaf from pan; cut loaf into 6 slices.

I obviously opted to turn these into individual sized meat loaves rather than one big loaf. This cut the cooking time in about half. That was nice, but I think if I do that again the future I'll pre-cook the onions and peppers a little. They were still mighty crunchy. Other than that, I'd deem this a success. Pretty standard meatloaf, but tasty just the same.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Spaghetti with Asparagus, Bacon, and Marinara Sauce

From a recipe in the grocery store ad. Looks like it's Barilla branded, but I can't find it on their website. I've tweaked it a little as it seems like whomever put it in the paper didn't edit it very well...

2 tbsp EVOO
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2# bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 lb asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 cup dry white wine (or chicken stock)
1 (23.5 oz) jar marinara or pasta sauce
1 (1 lb) box spaghetti (or fettuccine)
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Parmigiano cheese, grated
salt & pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to box directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon until crispy. Drain onto a paper towel and remove all but 1 tsbp of the fat from the pan. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until translucent. Add asparagus and saute for one to two minutes. Deglaze with wine/stock. Add marinara sauce and bring to a simmer.

Toss the cooked pasta with the sauce. Stir in butter, parsley, and cheese. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with bacon and serve.

This was ridiculously easy, but a combination I don't know that I've tried before. Whenever I use asparagus or bacon with pasta it's more in a carbonara way than a tomato-based sauce way. It wasn't a bad flavor mix - I was pleasantly surprised.

Slim Chicken Parm with Spaghetti (Squash)

From Everyday With Rachael Ray

8 ounces whole wheat penne pasta
4 5 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/3 cup dry red wine
1 28 ounce can chopped tomatoes
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes; drain.
2. Meanwhile, season the chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning once, until browned, about 8 minutes; transfer to a plate.
3. In the same skillet, cook the garlic over medium heat until golden, about 1 minute. Add the wine, bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and simmer until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Return the chicken and any juices to the skillet, turning to coat. Top each piece of chicken with some of the mozzarella and 1 teaspoon parmesan, cover and cook until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes; transfer to a platter.
4. Add the pasta and parsley to the skillet, toss and season with salt. Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and serve alongside the chicken.

I've made this one before, but this time I swapped out the pasta for some spaghetti squash. This was my first time cooking a spaghetti squash and I was amazed at how easy it is. Cut it (ok, so this wasn't easy - I called in the big guns (ie Adam)), put it on a baking sheet, bake in the oven at 350 for an hour, scrape the guts into a bowl, and voila. Fake spaghetti. It's just a little bit sweet so it goes well with the acidic tomato-based sauce. Overall, a success. I'm excited about all the other possibilities for spaghetti squash.