Sunday, April 28, 2013

Roasted Garam Masala Chickpeas

Great for snacking or on salads, with less fat/calories than most nuts. This same process could be used with any seasoning or spice mix, for lots of variety.

2  15-oz cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
3 Tbls olive oil
2 tsp garam masala 
½ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°. Rinse and drain chickpeas; roll gently between kitchen towels to dry and slough off skins. Discard skins. Coat chickpeas with olive oil; spread in single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with garam masala and salt. Bake, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are crisp (about 60 minutes) -- Keep an eye on them! The original recipe said 75 minutes, but as you can see in the picture, mine were PLENTY done and this was slightly under an hour!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Greek Potatoes with Lemon Vinaigrette

This was a Bobby Flay/Food Network recipe I tried today ( I love a good vinaigrette; the lemon and oregano really add a fresh, light zip to roast potato wedges.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Breakfast 'Cookies'

These have fairly good flavor, and -- without any added sugar (which they do not need!) -- are reasonably healthy. It's the texture that could use a little help. They are...spongy. I think an egg would help, and would be little compromise to the wholesomeness of these 'cookies'. I'll try that next time. :) 

3 bananas, mashed 
1/3 C apple sauce
2 C oats 
¼ C milk 
½ C dried cranberries or raisins
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
optional: C chopped nuts

Preheat oven to 350. Combined mashed bananas and applesauce; stir in milk and vanilla. Add remaining ingredients, stirring until well blended. Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

I had everything to make this recipe except the orzo, but I did have arborio rice...which has a creamier texture than other rices and I thought would make a reasonable substitute. I was not impressed with this recipe. I don't think it was the arborio-for-orzo substitution (though it may have contributed). The recipe (ingredients) looked/sounded good, but overall, the end result was very underseasoned. Salt and pepper after the fact helped (I even used my basil salt for extra herb flavor), but it was still...uninspiring. I couldn't taste the mint at all, so that -- which I was curious to sample in a stuffed pepper dish -- seemed like a waste. With the Italian seasoned tomatoes, I finally splashed on a little balsamic and it was tolerable.  But who wants to eat food that's just 'tolerable'?! Not me. I'm still posting the recipe, just as a way of saving it. Maybe I'll play around with it later...

1 14-oz can Italian diced tomatoes
1 zucchini, grated
¼ C chopped fresh mint leaves
½ C grated Pecorino Romano
3 Tbls olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 C chicken broth
1 C orzo
4 bell peppers

Preheat oven to 400°.  Combine tomatoes, zucchini, mint, half of the cheese, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring chicken broth to a boil; add orzo. Cook for about 4 minutes (orzo will only be partially cooked). Use a strainer to pour broth into a baking dish, straining the orzo and adding it to vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.

Slice tops off peppers and remove all ribs and seeds. If needed, cut a thin slice off base of peppers so they'll stand on their own. Place peppers in baking dish with broth; spoon orzo and vegetable mixture into peppers. cover with foil, bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil; sprinkle tops with remaining cheese. Bake, uncovered, until cheese id golden - about 15 minutes.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Smoky Roasted Mushrooms

2 lbs whole, mixed mushrooms
2 Tbls olive oil 
¼ tsp each, salt & pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced 
½ tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbls butter
2 Tbls fresh chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper; spread in single layer on baking sheet. Roast 30 minutes, stirring at least twice during roasting. Meanwhile, cook minced garlic and paprika in butter just until soft. Toss mushrooms with garlic-paprika butter. Sprinkle with parsley. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Battered Pork Chops with Peach Sauce

I'm not sure how often I'll want to batter and fry a perfectly good pork chop. (Probably not often.) But I bought a huge (5 lb) tenderloin on sale, so even after the Honey-Orange tenderloin I made yesterday, I had lots left. I froze a 1 lb tenderloin for later and cut the rest into chops, some for now, some for later...and plenty to try new recipes.  Besides, the peach sauce would be good over an UNbattered chop too.

1/3 C peach jam
2 Tbls ketchup
1 Tbls + 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbls cider vinegar
2 Tbls cold unsalted butter, small diced
1½ C flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg (white only)
¼"-thick boneless pork chops (about 1 lb)
vegetable oil, for frying

Combine jam, ketchup, 1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce with 3 tablespoons water in a large skillet over medium-high heat; whisk until thickened (about 5 minutes). Whisk in vinegar, then butter -- a few pieces at a time. Remove from heat and cover.

Whisk together 1 cup flour, baking powder, ½ cup water (or a little more, if needed), the egg white and remaining Worcestershire. Put remaining flour in shallow dish. Heat ¼ inch vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat to 375°. Dredge pork chops in flour, then dip in batter. Fry until golden (about 3-4 minutes per side). Drain on paper towels. Serve with peach sauce.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Honey-Orange Pork Tenderloin

½ C orange marmalade
3 Tbls cider vinegar
2 Tbls soy sauce
1 Tbls minced garlic
2 tsp honey
2 Tbls olive oil
1 lb pork tenderloin (trimmed) 
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk together marmalade, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and honey. Set aside 2 tablespoons of this mixture.Heat an ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat; add oil, swirling to coat pan. Season pork with salt and pepper. Cook in skillet until browned (about 5 minutes). Turn tenderloin over; baste with ¼ cup marmalade mixture. Bake 10 minutes. Turn tenderloin over; baste again with marmalade mixture. Bake another 10 minutes (or until center of tenderloin reaches 150°). Remove from skillet onto serving dish; brush with reserved marmalade mixture. Let rest 10 minutes; slice.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spicy Corn & Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed pepper recipes...round 2!
(See 'round 1' recipe here.)

2 Tbls olive oil
1 15-oz can corn 
½ bell pepper, diced 
½ onion, diced 
½ lb pork sausage
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
4 oz cream cheese 
1/3 C chopped fresh parsley
1-2 Tbls hot sauce
C bread crumbs
12-15 Anaheim or Poblano peppers
   I'm really a weenie about hot peppers (or hot anything). Neither Anaheim or Poblano are all that hot, relatively speaking; however, I still had some of the sweet mini peppers from my last stuffed pepper post. I used the rest here and was perfectly happy with the results. You can also vary the heat significantly with the type and amount of hot sauce you choose.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Pulse the corn in a food processor so that it's still chunky, but not whole kernels. Heat 1 Tbls olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn, bell pepper and onion; cook, stirring frequently until tender (about 5 minutes). Add sausage and garlic; break up sausage with a wooden spatula and cook until well browned. Add cream cheese and stir until all ingredients are well incorporated. Remove from heat. Add parsley and hot sauce, stirring to combine.

Halve the peppers lengthwise and remove seeds. Toss peppers with remaining olive oil to coat lightly. Set halved peppers into baking dish cut-side up; fill each pepper with corn and sausage mixture. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Cover loosely with foil and bake until peppers are tender, about 25 minutes.

Serve peppers drizzled with extra hot sauce.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Sweet Potato Chips

The May 2013 issue of Cooking Light, available now, has a recipe for sweet potato chips (p114) done in the microwave. Aside from heating leftovers and melting things, I'm leery of most microwave cooking. The claim with these chips was that the microwave dehydrates them, cooking and crisping without burning them as might happen in a conventional oven. I tried it both ways, in the microwave and @ 425° for 12-15 minutes -- depending on how thin you can slice your potato. (Try using a vegetable peeler if you don't have the recommended mandolin and/or exceptional knife skills!) I just sliced...VERY THINLY.

My personal conclusion: Microwave = no burning, but they are a little...chewy. And my microwave took considerably longer than their recipe indicated. Conventional oven = potential of dark edges if you don't watch your chips closely, or if they're not evenly sliced; but I think they're more 'toasted'. The conventional oven still gets my vote; but the microwave was better than I expected.

Rustic Plum Tart

I had a couple plums that were over-ripe. Found a Food Network recipe for a very basic Open-Faced Plum Tart made using a store bought crust (which I also had in the freezer and was glad to find some way of using it up!) -- though you could easily make your own. The original recipe even called for fig jam, which I have!  However, my fig jam already has ginger in it;'s my version, just slightly dressed up with some cloves, mint, and orange zest. Still quick and easy, especially using the store bought crust.

1 9-inch store-bought pie crust
1/4 cup ginger-fig jam
1/8 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp fresh chopped mint
1 tsp orange zest
2 large plums, thinly sliced
1 egg 
¼ C raw cane sugar

Preheat oven to 425°. Bring store bought pie crust to room temperature. Line baking sheet with parchment; place crust on baking sheet. Spread crust with ginger-fig jam, leaving 2" border around the edges. Sprinkle with ground cloves. Fan plum slices on top of jam. Top with chopped mint, orange zest, and half of the sugar. In small bowl, beat egg with about 2 Tbls water. Fold crust edges inward -- leaving center exposed -- press slightly to seal. Brush crust with egg wash (using it to help seal folds as needed); sprinkle with remaining sugar.Bake until dough is thoroughly cooked with golden edges (about 35 minutes). Serve warm with ice cream.

Sweet & Sour Stuffed Peppers

This recipe -- my own combination/adaptation of about three other stuffed pepper recipes -- calls for 3 medium bell peppers. I had a bag of sweet mini-peppers (on sale recently at Safeway), so I used them instead; the recipe filled about a dozen mini-peppers, halved.

1 medium carrot, small diced
1 C broccoli, small diced
1 lg shallot, small diced
2 Tbls olive oil 
1/3 lb ground pork sausage
3 Tbls tomato paste 
¼ C mix of chopped fresh parsley, dill and mint
1/3 C crushed pineapple, with juice
2 Tbls red wine vinegar
2 Tbls mirin 
½ tsp salt 
½ C prepared couscous
3 medium sweet bell peppers (any color) 
½ C grated asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 450°.

Heat 1 Tbls olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add chopped vegetables and cook, stirring frequently until tender (about 5 minutes). Add sausage and 2 Tbls tomato paste; break up sausage with a wooden spatula and cook until well browned. Add pineapple with juice, 1 Tbls vinegar, 1 Tbls mirin and salt. Bring to a simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring until mixture is well combined and becomes slightly saucy. Remove from heat. Add couscous and herbs, stirring to combine.

Halve the peppers lengthwise and remove seeds. Toss peppers with remaining olive oil to coat lightly. Whisk together remaining tomato paste, vinegar and mirin with ¼ cup water; pour into bottom of baking dish. Set halved peppers into baking dish cut-side up; fill each pepper with vegetable-sausage-couscous mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Cover loosely with foil and bake until peppers are tender, about 25 minutes.

Serve peppers drizzled with tomato cooking liquid from bottom of baking dish.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Creamy Balsamic

3 Tbls balsamic vinegar
1 Tbls lemon juice
1½ Tbls dijon mustard
1½ Tbls mayonnaise 
½ tsp sugar 
½ tsp garlic 
½ C olive oil 
½ tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp pepper 

Blend together vinegar, lemon juice, dijon mustard, mayonnaise, sugar, and garlic. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Salt and pepper as indicated or to taste.

The sandwich is simply shaved honey ham, Monterey Jack and fig preserves (with ginger, from Snow Goose Produce), on left over French toast -- kind of a spin on a Monte Cristo.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Chicken Braised in Wine & Rosemary

1½ -2 lbs chicken
½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
2 Tbls olive oil 
¼ C flour 
½ C chopped shallots
1 Tbls chopped garlic
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 C Chianti (or other rich red wine)
1 C chicken stock*
1 tsp sugar
1 (14.5 oz) can crushed or diced tomatoes*
1 bay leaf
2 Tbls chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

* The original recipe called for low sodium and/or sodium free chicken stock and canned tomatoes. While the wine, rosemary, garlic and bay leaf added good flavor, I found the dish slightly under-seasoned and ended up adding a little salt just before serving. Salt & pepper to suit your own tastes.

Season chicken pieces with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Dredge in flour. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat, swirling oil to coat. Place chicken pieces in skillet, 3-4 minutes per side to crisp and brown the surface -- they'll get fully cooked later. Remove chicken from pan.

Add shallots, garlic, and rosemary to hot skillet; cook 2 minutes until tender and fragrant. Add wine and bring to boil for 1-2 minutes, gently deglazing the pan. Add remaining salt and pepper, chicken stock, sugar, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Bring to boil. Return chicken to pan. Reduce heat to medium; cook, partially covered, about 15 minutes until chicken is fully cooked and sauce is reduced and thickened.

Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

This picture really doesn't do them justice...crunchy edges, chewy in the middles. Yum!

1 C butter, softened
1 C sugar
1 C brown sugar
2 eggs
1 Tbls vanilla
2¼ C flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ C unsweetened cocoa
12 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°.

Cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour, salt, soda and cocoa; add to sugar and egg mixture. Stir in chocolate chips (or use M&Ms, nuts, white chocolate chips, etc.)

Drop by spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake 9-11 minutes. Cool 3-4 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to wire racks.