Monday, November 29, 2010


Just to prepare any of you who may check in regularly... It's entirely possible that for the next month my recipe posts will consist predominantly, if not entirely, of cookies and candies and Christmas treats. I do continue to cook and eat regular food of course, but much of my cooking and baking (and any time consuming kitchen creations) may focus significantly on holiday sweets.


African Yam-Peanut Stew

This is another recipe I make routinely for my World Literature classes. We're just starting our Africa unit, reading Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart -- in which their primary cash crop is yams.

3 cloves garlic
1 cups loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 C peanut butter (chunky or creamy)
2 tsp cumin
1½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
3 lbs (4-5 medium) sweet potatoes
15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
16 oz canned or frozen cut green beans

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1 - 1½" chunks.

In blender (or food processor with knife blade) blend garlic, cilantro, tomatoes with their juice, peanut butter, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt until smooth.

Pour peanut butter mixture into 4½ to 6 quart slow cooker; stir in 1-2 cups water or broth. Add sweet potato chunks and chickpeas; stir to combine. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours, or on high setting 4-5 hours...or until potatoes are tender.

10 minutes before serving, cook/heat green beans. Gently stir beans into stew.
Serve. Garnish with chopped peanuts if desired.

Monday, November 22, 2010


lemon juice
sugar (??)
optional: cinnamon

Almost seems too simple for a recipe, but here's what I do:

Peel, core and slice/dice the apples. If I'm making a large quantity, I spinkle the apple slices with a little lemon juice as I go...keeps them from browning.

Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large sauce pan (or 2 tablespoons in a larger stock pot if you're making a lot at once). Add sliced apples, and just a splash of lemon juice. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until apples begin to mush. If you want really smooth applesauce, use a ricer or an immersion blender. (I like my applesauce kind of chunky.)

Taste test! :) If you like, add sugar. It depends on the variety of apple, but I often use a little sugar, and when I do I always use brown. If you like, add cinnamon. Sugar and cinnamon - as much or as little as you like, to taste.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sausage & Spinach over Polenta

1¾ C chicken broth
1¾ C water
1¼ C cornmeal
¾ C shredded mozzarella (3 oz)
12 oz fully cooked sausage
(turkey, pork, anykind...)
1 tsp oil
1 medium onion, cut in thin wedges
4 garlic cloves, minced
¼ tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cornstarch
10 oz. spinach, coarsely chopped

For polenta...
In a large saucepan, heat 1¼ C chicken broth and 1¾ C water just until boiling. Slowly stir in cornmeal, ¼ C at a time. Bring mixture to boiling; reduce heat to very low. Cover and cook for 20 minutes, stirring often. Stir in ½ C shredded mozzarella. Spread evenly in a casserole dish, sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare sausage and spinach...
Bias cut sausage into ¼" thick slices. Heat oil in a large skilled; add sausage, onion, garlic and cayenne. Cook for 5 minutes or until onion is tender and sausage is heated through.

In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and remaining chicken broth. Add to skillet mixture; cook and stir until boiling. Reduce heat and add spinach, a little at a time, stirring constantly until all is wilted. Serve over polenta.

I like garlic, but I could do with a little less in this recipe; let the other flavors come through a bit more. 2-3 cloves, or 4 small cloves...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quick and Easy Skillet Lasagne

I don't know if this should really qualify as lasagne! But if you're craving the flavor and don't have the time, try this...

1½ lb ground beef (or turkey, etc.)
28 oz jar of marinara sauce
2 C cooked rotini pasta
1 1/3 C French's French Fried Onions
1 C ricotta cheese
1 C shredded mozzarella

Brown meat in a large skilled; drain away grease. Stir in sauce, pasta and ½ of the french fried onions. Heat to boiling, stirring often. Spoon ricotta cheese over meat mixture; top with mozzarella and remaining onions. Cover; cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Beef Adobo Salpicao with crisped shallots

Apparently...salpicao is a popular Manila bar snack. Served as an appetizer.

1 C thinly sliced shallots
¼ C each canola oil and olive oil
1½ lbs top sirloin steak
(I used elk)
3 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
3/4 tsp pepper
2 Tbls soy sauce
2 Tbls coconut vinegar*
(or 4 tsp cider vinegar)

Cut steak into 3/4" chunks.

In a large skillet over medium heat, cook shallots in oils, stirring often, until deep golden (7-8 minutes). Using a slotted spoon, transfer to papper towels. Discard all but 2 Tbls oil.

Increase heat to high. Add beef to frying pan; cook until browned on underside (1-2 minutes). Stir in garlic and bay leaf. Turn meat; when second side is browned, stir in pepper, soy and vinegar. Boil until reduced by half (1-2 minutes). Spoon meat into a bowl and top with shallots.

* You can get coconut vinegar in the Asian section of well stocked grocery stores, but I just used the cider vinegar; I don't really like coconut and don't see myself using the coconut vinegar much.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Balsamic Glazed Onions

I do like onions (or I certainly wouldn't have tried this recipe which includes them as not just an ingredient but pretty much the ingredient!), but it's really the balsamic glaze that sold me on it! It's not difficult, but the trimming and peeling of the onions does take time...and I only made a half recipe.

4-5 lbs small onions
(cipollini onions, white pearl onions,
red pearl onions, shallots...)
1 head garlic, separated into cloves (optional)
3 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls fresh thyme leaves
plus sprigs for garnish
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp coarse ground sea salt
½ C balsamic vinegar
1 C chicken or vegetable broth
1 bunch green onions
3 Tbls butter

Working in batches, add onions to a pot of boiling water; simmer 1 minute, then transfer to a colander wtih a slotted spoon and immediately rinse with cold water. Repeat with garlic.

Using a small, sharp knife, trim tips and root ends and peel onions and garlic on a cutting board; slit larger onions lengthwise (do not cut completely apart), holding your thumb against the pointy tip to keep the core from squirting out. Put onions and garlic in a bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbls oil. Stir in thyme leaves, pepper and salt, mixing to coat.

In a large skillet, heat remaining 2 Tbls oil over medium-high heat. Sautée onions and garlic, stirrign often, until most are partly browned. Add vinegar and broth; reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until onions are tender and some begin to fall apart (10-20 minutes).

Trim green onions and cut into 2" lengths. Add green onions and butter to onion and garlic mixture in skillet. Stir until well combined. Using a slotted spoon, transfer onions to a serving bowl; cover. Boil sauce over high heat until syrupy and reduced to about ¾ cup (about 4 minutes). Stir gently into onion mixture. Serve, garnished with extra sprigs of thyme.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bumble's Ginger Roulade

Bumble...that would be Bumble Ogilvy-Wedderburn, a Scottish cook. The recipe is from the Ballymaloe Cookery School in Ireland. I made a double batch recently to take to a shower for a friend. If there's leftovers, I'll try the freezing and broiling option. :)

6 Tbls butter
2/3 C treacle or mild molasses
¼ C sugar
scant ½ C water
1 C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1 C chilled heavy cream
1/3 C chopped crystalized ginger
powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°

Line a 15x10" pan with parchment paper. Lightly coat both the pan and the parchment with non-stick cooking spray.

Melt butter with molasses, sugar and water over medium heat in a small saucepan. Let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and ground ginger in a large bowl. Whisk in butter mixturea and egg yolk until smooth. Beat egg white in a medium bowl until it just holds stiff peaks, then fold into batter gently, but thoroughly.

Pour into baking pan, spreading evenly. Bake until top is golden and firm to touch (18-22 minutes). Cool cake pan 5 minutes, then cover with a slightly damp kitchen towel and cool completely, about 1 hour.

Dust cake generously with powdered sugar, then cover with a sheet of parchment, then with a baking rack or cookie sheet. Invert cake and peel off parchment that is now on 'top'.

Beat cream until it just holds stiff peaks, then spread evenly over top of cake, leaving ½" border. Sprinkle crystallized ginger over the cream. Roll cake, starting from a short side, to make a 10" log, removing parchment as you go. Gently transfer log to a serving plate; dust with additional powdered sugar if desired. Slice, and serve.

Alternate serving suggestion: If desired, slices of roulade can be frozen (up to 1 week), then lightly sprinkled with turbinado sugar (Sugar in the Raw) and broiled 5-6 inches from heat for about 3 minutes until golden. Do NOT thaw first. The sugar won't melt completely, resulting in a crunchy texture along with bites of cake and cream that are both hot and cold at once.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken and two-pepper Calzones

1 lb pizza dough
(purchased or prepared)
8 Tbls tomato sauce
1 red pepper, roasted and chopped
1 green pepper, roasted and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 C cooked, shredded chicken
1 C shredded mozzarella
1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 450°.

Divide pizza dough into 4 pieces (I used my own homemade dough, recipe is posted). Stretch each piece into a 7" circle. In the center of each, spread 2 Tbls tomato sauce and sprinke with oregano and salt. Top with chopped peppers, onions, and shredded chicken, spreading evenly to within ½" of the edges of dough. Top with mozzarella. Fold circles over to make half-moons; firmly press edges to seal.

Bake 15 minutes or until top crusts are lightly browned.

Obviously, you could come up with endless combinations of what to use as fillings for the calzones...try different meats and veggies as well as different cheeses and sauces for endless variety! :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Ice Cream Cake

I'm not sure if this even 'qualifies' as a recipe (the only thing 'homemade' about it is the cookie crust and fudge sauce at the very bottom!)...but my nephew requested an ice cream cake--with chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream--for his birthday. When it's your birthday, you get what you ask for - at least where dessert is concerned! :)

store bought ice cream
store bought (gasp!) frosting
(I would usually make my own, but I had a lot going on this weekend!)
cookie crust
(see Peanut Butter Pie for recipe)
fudge sauce
(see Myrtle's Hot Fudge Sauce)

Slightly soften the ice cream, and spoon it into a cake pan (or two if you want to make a double layered 'cake'). Put it in the freezer for a couple hours.

Meanwhile, make a cookie crust the same size as the pans the ice cream is in (or a graham cracker crust if it would go better with whatever flavor of ice cream you choose). Make hot fudge sauce and let it cool, or use a jar of store bought fudge ice cream topping (or another flavor that compliments your ice cream choice). Spread a layer of fudge sauce on the cookie crust and put it in the freezer.

When everything is frozen very firm, dip the pan of ice cream briefly in hot water, then invert it onto the fudge covered cookie crust. If you're making a double layered 'cake', spread another layer of fudge sauce on the bottom layer, then dip the second pan of ice cream briefly in hot water, and invert it on top. Return to the freezer until everything is very firm (about half an hour).

Frost (and decorate, if desired) the cake -- just like you would a regular cake, but work quickly so the edges of ice cream don't melt which makes it runny and slippery and it's very difficult to spread frosting on that!

Return it all to the freezer until ready to serve. Feel free to drizzle with extra fudge sauce (or any other ice cream sauce...find one that compliments whatever flavor of ice cream you choose).

Peanut Butter Pie

My mom is a chocolate-peanut-butter enthusiast...and in my family, she's in good company! It was her birthday last Friday. There are lots of similar variations of this recipe...

1½ C chocolate cookie crumbs
1/3 C melted butter
¼ C sugar

1 lg pkg instant vanilla pudding
2½ C milk
1 C creamy peanut butter
1 C whipping cream
¼ C sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 C fudge sauce
(purchased or use Myrtle's hot fudge sauce)

Mix cookie crumbs, sugar and melted butter. Press into bottom and up sides of a 9" pie plate or springform pan. Bake at 375° for 10 minutes. Let cool.

Whip the cream, with sugar and vanilla, until soft peaks form.

Pour 1 cup of fudge sauce into crust and spread evenly. Top with about ½ of the whipped cream. Place in freezer briefly while you mix the peanut butter filling...

Mix milk and peanut butter until smooth. Add vanilla pudding mix and whisk vigorously. Place in frig for 5-10 minutes.

Retrieve pie shell and peanut butter filling from freezer and frig. Stir peanut butter filling and gently pour into pie shell, spreading evenly. Return to frig until ready to serve.

To serve, drizzle slices with remaining fudge sauce.
If desired, garnish with chopped peanuts and/or chocolate chunks, whipped cream...

Scotch Shortbread

So simple, and oh so delicious!

½ C powdered sugar
1 C softened butter
2 C flour
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Roll or press, cut into wedges or bars, etc.*
Bake 20 minutes at 315°.

* I don't have a shortbread mold, but I do have a 2" thistle stamp, so I roll mine into balls, then stamp them.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Thai Peanut Soup

1/3 C finely chopped onion
1/3 C finely chopped celery
2 Tbls finely chopped sweet red pepper
1 Tbls butter
3 Tbls flour
1 tsp lemon zest or
1 Tbls very finely chopped
lemongrass (white portion only)
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
1 3/4 C chicken broth
1 13.5 oz can coconut milk
1/2 C smooth peanut butter
2 Tbls brown sugar
1 Tbls soy sauce

Optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, chopped cilantro, julienned sweet red pepper

In a medium saucepan cook--stirring occasionally--finely chopped onion, celery, and sweet red pepper in butter 4 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Stir in flour lemon zest/lemongrass, and ground red pepper.

Add chicken broth and cocounut milk all at once. Cook and stir until mixture is slightly thickened and bubbly. Add peanut butter, brown sugar and soy; stir until well blended and heated through.

Serve hot; garnish with peanuts, cilantro, and/or sweet red pepper

This made a very thick soup. Delicious, but next time I think I'd increase the broth.

Pear-Ginger Crisp

2 1/2 lb firm pears
juice of one lemon
1/2 C sugar
1/4 C sweet marsala (or port or fruit juice)
1/4 C chopped crystallized ginger
1/3 C golden raisins
1/2 tsp vanilla
dash salt
2 Tbls butter

'Crisp' topping (streusel)
2/3 C flour
3 Tbls sugar
1/3 C brown sugar
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
6 Tbls butter

Make crisp topping: Preheat oven to 350°. Line a rimmed a baking sheet with parchment. Mix dry ingredients. Cut butter into small chunks. Add butter; mix on low speed until crumbly. Spread on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until streusel is golden at edges; stir. Bake an additional 3-5 minutes until golden all over. Remove from oven and let cool.

Increase oven temp to 375°.

Peel and core pears; cut into 1" chunks. Gently mix in large bowl with lemon juice. Coat a shallow baking dish with non-stick spray and set aside.

Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a 3-4 quart pan. Cook over medium-high heat until sugar begins to brown (4-7 minutes). Swirling pan occasionally, boil 1-2 minutes more until sugar is golden brown. Remove from heat, let cool 30 seconds. Gently stir in pears; sugar will thicken. Return pan to heat and cook, stirring occasionally until sugar melts again, 2-3 minutes.

Add marsala, ginger, raisins, vanilla and salt. Reduce heat; simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears are just tender, 8-10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pears to baking dish. Add butter to pan and cook until melted. Spoon over pears. Scatter streusel over pears.

Bake 15-20 minutes, until fruit is bubbling. Let cool about 10 minutes. Server warm with vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Zesty Mashed Potatoes

8 lg baking potatoes
½ C sour cream
8 oz cream cheese @ room temperature
½ C butter @ room temperature
½ milk
1-2 cloves minced garlic
salt & pepper
optional: 1 C shredded cheddar cheese

Peel and cube potatoes; cook, drain.
Coat a 9x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Beat potatoes until smooth. Add sour cream, cream cheese, milk, garlic, salt & pepper. Beat until thoroughly mixed. Pour into baking dish.

Optional: Sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese. (Or use a different cheese of your choice.)

Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes at 400°.

Rosemary Turkey with Mushrooms

1 lb turkey breast
½ C chicken broth
1 Tbls cornstarch
salt & pepper
2 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 tsp fresh rosemary
(or ¼ tsp dried rosemary, crushed)
8 oz button mushrooms
¼ C chopped onion
fresh rosemary garnish

Cut turkey breasts into tenderloin slices, removing all visible fat. Rinse turkey and pat dry.

In a bowl, combine broth, cornstarch, salt and pepper.

Coat a skillet with non-stick cooking spray; place over medium-high heat. Add turkey to hot skillet; cook 2 minutes each side, until meat is no longer pink. Remove from heat and remove turkey from skillet (keep warm).

Add vinegar and rosemary to skillet, scraping up brown bits from bottom of pan. Return pan to heat; add mushrooms and onion. Cook, over medium heat, stirring constantly until mushrooms are tender (5 minutes).

Add broth mixture. Cook until thickened (3 minutes). Cook 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Serve mushroom sauce over turkey. Garnish, if desired, with fresh rosemary.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Polenta with Spicy Baked Shrimp & Tomatoes

1 24 oz pkg polenta
(or about 4 C prepared polenta)
2 lb shrimp
4 Tbls olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
¼-½ tsp red pepper flakes
1 Tbls lemon juice
¼ C vermouth (or red wine)
1 C chopped onion
1 26-28 oz can plum tomatoes
2 Tbls fresh basil (or ½ Tbls dried)
2 Tbls fresh parsley (or ½ Tbls dried)
1 Tbls fresh oregano (or ¼ Tbls dried)
1 Tbls fresh thyme (or ¼ Tbls dried)
salt & pepper
8 oz crumbled feta

Coat 9x13" baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Spread polenta on bottom of baking dish.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil. Add shrimp, 3 cloves minced garlic, lemon juice and red pepper flakes. Cook until shrimp just begin to turn pink. Remove from pan. Add onion and cook 3-4 minutes, until softened. Add garlic. Deglaze the pan with the vermouth. Add tomatoes, herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer 10 minutes. Stir shrimp in and gently spread over polenta. Top with crumbled feta. Bake 30 minutes at 375°.

Spicy Shrimp and Tomato mixture is also delicious over pasta. :)