Wednesday, November 2, 2011

pasta with pumpkin and sausage

well, she's done it again. rachael ray has created a really yummy recipe that i totally love, but don't want to hear her talk about... her voice just gets to me (i can't be alone in this, right?). this is an awesome fall or winter dish that is hearty and delicious, but helps you branch away from the classic red or white pasta sauce options. i made a few minor changes, such as adding just a bit of sugar (weird, i know), but it really helped the flavor. i use turkey italian sausage, but you just feel free to substitute normal italian sausage if you'd prefer. make this tonight!

pasta with pumpkin & sausage adapted from rachael ray
2 T. olive oil
1 lb. sweet italian turkey sausage (out of the casings)
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 c. chopped onions
1 bay leaf
5 sage leaves, cut into chiffonade (thin slices)
1 c. white wine
1 c. chicken broth
1 c. canned pumpkin
1 T. sugar
1/3 c. cream (i used half and half)
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
s&p to taste
1 lb. penne, cooked and drained

heat skillet over med-hi. add 1 T. olive oil and sausage; brown. transfer sausage to paper towels, drain fat from pan and return to stove. add remaining olive oil, garlic and onion - sauté 3-5 minutes until onions are tender.
add bay leaf, sage and wine to pan. reduce liquid by half, 3-4 minutes. add stock and pumpkin and combine, stir until sauce starts to bubble then return sausage to pan, reduce heat. stir in cream, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar and s&p to taste. simmer 5-10 minutes to thicken.
remove bay leaf from sauce and combine pasta and sauce. garnish with shredded parmesan cheese, if desired.

Monday, August 29, 2011

curried red snapper

well, hello! though the posts have slowed down, the cooking has not. since i don't eat red meat, we have the potential of going stir-crazy on chicken in our house. so i try to bring fish into our menu as often as possible. this is a really simple recipe i found on that's very tasty. it calls for red snapper, but you could use cod, flounder or tilapia fillets, too. and if you need to make it gluten-free, try subbing cornstarch in for the flour to thicken. enjoy!

curried red snapper
1 lb. red snapper fillets
1/2 c. onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 T. butter
1 T. curry powder
1/2 t. salt
4 T. milk
2 t. flour or 1 t. cornstarch (or more, to thicken)

place fish in greased 9x13" cooking pan. in skillet, sauté onions, celery and butter until tender; add salt and curry, mix. stir in milk and flour. spread curry mix over fish and bake uncovered at 350 for 20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork.

Monday, August 8, 2011

baby food

i haven't updated the blog in a month or so because a good portion of the food i've been making has been baby food. i thought i could share a few ideas on that front since making your own baby food is a healthy, cheaper way to feed your kiddo. i'm not going to rewrite a baby food book or blog, and the instructions for all baby food are basically "cook til soft, purée, serve". to store it (after puréeing), i poured the food into ice cube trays, froze it, and then stored it in zip-top bags in the freezer. here are just a few ideas of great foods for baby.

baby food
sweet potato (with cinnamon and nutmeg)
green beans (with onion powder)
butternut or banana squash
carrots (with curry and onion powder)
nectarine, banana, mango
blueberry, mango, spinach, kiwi, banana
plum, banana, blueberry
cottage cheese
tofu (mixed in with any other food)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

turkey meatloaf

stereotypically, meatloaf isn't something people look forward to at dinner. i don't quite understand where it got such a bad rap. my husband james had a very different opinion of meatloaf; as chinese food was the everyday, having meatloaf was a big treat. so when i tried this recipe the first time, he was pretty excited. this is a good one from ina garten, but i've made a few tweaks (starting with cutting the original recipe in half... 5 pounds of turkey? ina!). tonight i added about 1/2 cup of chopped bell pepper & 1/4 cup sliced mushrooms when i sautéed the onions - delish!

turkey meatloaf
1 1/2 c. chopped onion (1 large onion)
1 T. olive oil
1 t. salt
1 t. black pepper
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 c. worcestershire sauce
1/3 c. chicken broth
1 T. tomato paste
2 1/2 lbs. ground turkey
3/4 c. plain bread crumbs
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. ketchup

preheat oven to 325. in pan over med-low heat, cook onions, olive oil, salt, pepper & thyme until translucent, but not browned - about 10 minutes. add worcestershire sauces, broth and paste and mix well. allow to cool. combine turkey, bread crumbs, eggs & onions and mix in large bowl. mix well & shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased sheet pan. spread ketchup evenly on top. bake for 45 minutes, or until internal temperature is 160 & cooked through. (a pan of hot water on the lower rack of the oven will keep the top of the loaf from cracking)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

slow-roasted garlic chicken

cooking a whole chicken freaked me out for years... it just looked so daunting. but when i got married i had this weird desire to be able to cook one for my husband and me. maybe i have some hidden desire to be a housewife in the 1950's. but then i got this recipe (from where or whom i don't know - please identify yourself!) and it looked do-able. and i can say wholeheartedly: it is do-able and delicious, to boot! this is one of james's top 5 recipes that i make. i've included a couple pictures to show what i mean by seasoning under the skin and how i tie penny's (henny penny reference) thigh's together after stuffing her. the cool part of this is the first hour she cooks under foil, getting all juicy throughout, but then you take the foil off and crank the temp up to give her a nice tan - extra yummies! join me in 1950 and cook penny up tonight. (sorry - i forgot to take a picture of penny all cooked and golden... guess we just got too excited about carving her up.)

slow-roasted garlic chicken
2 T. kosher salt (or regular)
1 t. black pepper
1 ~5 lb. chicken
4 garlic heads, top 1" cut off
1 medium lemon, halved
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, quartered
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth

heat oven to 375. mix salt & pepper and set aside. remove giblets & pat chicken dry. rub chicken all over with one garlic head, rub all over (under skin, too - see picture) with oil & season with salt and pepper (in cavity, also). place 1 garlic head, top pieces of garlic and half the lemon in cavity & tie thighs together (see picture). arrange remaining garlic, lemon & onion on bottom of baking dish and place chicken in middle. add broth to pan and cover tightly with foil. roast until chicken reaches 135-140 degrees, about 1 hour. remove foil, brush chicken with juices and increase oven temp to 450. basting occasionally until temp of chicken in inner thigh is 165 degrees, skin is golden brown and juices run clear - about 30-40 minutes more. let rest 10 minutes before carving. (optional: pour pan juices into small saucepan and simmer over med. heat until thickened; about 7-10 minutes)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

texas sheet cake

this is my favorite cake, hands-down. growing up, when my mom would ask what kind of cake i wanted for my birthday i always chose this one. i'm not a big frosting girl, but this cake and frosting - oh man. it's because there's buttermilk in both, making them not overly sweet. i'm so excited i'm making this today! i hope i can wait to eat it til tonight... it's not as good of a birthday cake with a big section missing and crumbs around the cook's mouth.

texas sheet cake from gretchen riedel
2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. oil
1 c. water
1/2 c. cocoa
1/3 c. buttermilk
2 eggs
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla

preheat oven to 400. grease and flour an 11x17" cookie sheet. mix flour, sugar & salt in a large bowl, set aside. in a small saucepan, combine butter, oil, water & cocoa and bring to a low boil. pour cocoa mixture into flour mixture and stir. add remaining ingredients, mix until combined and pour into pan. bake for 20-25 minutes and spread frosting when cooled.

chocolate buttermilk frosting
1/2 c. butter
1/4 c. cocoa
1/3 c. buttermilk
4 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
dash of salt

bring butter, cocoa & buttermilk to low boil, pour over sugar and stir to combine. add vanilla and salt and beat well. spread over cooled cake.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

banana muffins

we had a large amount of bananas in our kitchen this morning and that needed to stop. you see, i'm not a huge fan of bananas - i don't eat them and feel pleasure. the exception: when they're baked into something. then i feel pleasure in eating them.

i found a recipe using and experimented by adding some extra flavor and cutting down on the fat. i also substituted in some whole wheat flour. it worked really well! they taste wonderful and our house smells fantastic. i added chocolate chips and walnuts, but you don't have to & they'd still be good. hope you enjoy!

banana muffins
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. nutmeg
1 egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. plain yogurt (i used fat free & it was great)
1 t. vanilla
1 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 c. chopped walnuts

in a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, soda, salt, cinnamon & nutmeg. in another bowl, combine the egg, oil, yogurt and vanilla. stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. fold in bananas, chocolate chips and walnuts. fill greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.

creamy potato dish

two things you can count on at easter dinner at my family's house: creamy potato dish and quotes from "what about bob?". the quotes are not limited to easter - the well of lines from that movie is bottomless. i watched it again a few years ago and was surprised at how annoying it was, but man... those quotes still have life in them! but i'm pretty sure talking about dr. leo marvin et al wasn't the point of this post.

this is an easy side dish that pairs well with many meats, but particularly ham. when it bakes, the top and edges get all crunchy and extra delicious. it'll leave you saying, "oh, fay!"

creamy potato dish
1 can cream of potato soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 c. sour cream
1 (2 lb.) package frozen hash browns
2 T. grated onion
1/2 c. grated cheese (cheddar or mozzarella both work well)
2 t. paprika

preheat oven to 350. grease a 9x13" baking dish. mix all ingredients except paprika in bowl and then spread into baking dish. top with paprika and bake for about 1 hour, until top begins to turn golden brown.

clam dip

at Christmas, my family celebrates Jesus's birth with a smörgåsbord of naughty foods. (sidenote: my computer really doesn't like the word "smörgåsbord" and is giving me very odd suggestions for a substitute.) we make dozens of dips, finger foods, and dishes smothered in cheese. maybe we're preparing for more wintery months, maybe we just like dip. this clam dip is one of my favorites & the other day i was thinking about it, wondering why i only keep it in the Christmastime section of my brain - this is good any time of year! i've changed up the original recipe to make it a bit less fatty and more clammy. serve with crackers.

clam dip
1 (8 oz.) package neufchatel cheese, room temp.
3 T. grated onion
2 (6.5 oz) cans minced clams
1 t. worcestershire sauce
1 t. pepper
3 T. light mayo

mix ingredients and refrigerate until serving.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

blueberry coffee cake

i'm trying to do more baking on the weekends and was feeling like coffee cake this morning. which means no time for anything with dough that needs to rise. so after a little snooping on, i combined a couple recipes to come up with this one. this recipe pretty forgiving and you could switch out a lot. for example, i used frozen blueberries, but i think you could swap in just about any other berry or even sliced peaches. and i used a combo of sour cream and milk to give the dough moisture, but you could just use 3/4 cup milk, or sour cream, or buttermilk (oooh, doesn't that sound fun?)... have at it! also, the original recipe called for this to be baked in a bundt pan, which i do not own, but a 9x13 works just fine. yay, improvising!
p.s. you will be excited when this comes out of the oven looking and smelling so yummy, but please let it cool a bit before chowing down - those blueberries are little heat bombs!

blueberry coffee cake
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 c. butter

2 c. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. sour cream
1/4 c. milk
1 1/2 c. blueberries *(see below)

heat oven to 350. coat a 9x13" baking dish with cooking spray. make the streusel topping: mix brown sugar, 1/3 c. flour, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. Cut in 1/4 c. butter; topping mixture will be crumbly. set aside.
for the cake: beat 1/2 c. butter or margarine in large bowl until creamy; add 1 c. sugar, and beat until fluffy. beat in egg and vanilla. whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; add alternately with the milk to the creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. gently fold in berries. spread the batter in the prepared pan. crumble streusel on top. bake for 40 minutes, until top is golden brown.

*(seasonal substitute: roughly chopped fresh cranberries & the zest of half an orange)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the ultimate chocolate chip cookie

there are so many recipes for chocolate chip cookies - how can you know which one to bake? well, let me choose for you: this one. christopher kindall, the guy who started "america's test kitchen" (and who also apparently hunts) came up with this recipe. and man is it amazing! i think the big difference is that you brown the butter. and anything with browned butter is my friend. it takes just a little longer than the regular nestle recipe, but you don't need to use a mixer with this one - score! just... trust me, they're amazing!

the ultimate chocolate chip cookie adapted from america's test kitchen
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 3/4 sticks butter
1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 t. salt
2 t. vanilla
1 egg, plus 1 egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

preheat oven to 375 degrees. combine flour and baking soda in a bowl. mix and set aside.

melt 1 1/4 sticks butter in a pan over medium-high heat. keep stirring until butter has a dark golden brown color and a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes. remove from heat & mix in the remaining butter until melted. add the sugars, salt, and vanilla to the butter and mix well. add the egg and yolk; whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. let it rest for 3 minutes, then whisk again for about 30 seconds, before letting it rest again. repeat the whisk/rest routine about 4 times, until you have a thick, glossy, and smooth mixture. gently stir in the flour and baking soda just until combined. stir in the chocolate and nuts.

bake for about 10 minutes, then put the baking sheet on a cooling rack and let the cookies cool on the sheets.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

thai-ish honey peanut chicken

can something be "thai-ish"? because i believe this is. probably not the most authentic thai recipe, but it calls for ingredients that you most likely have around the kitchen... so who can complain about that? also, it's delicious and super easy: win-win! this recipe is adapted (barely) from when i make this, i throw in whatever veggies i have lying around, and if you want to go vegetarian, i think this would be great with firm tofu. something else i love about this recipe: you can marinade the chicken anywhere between half an hour to 6 hours ahead of time. don't you love when a recipe is flexible? and thai-ish?

thai-ish honey peanut chicken
1 lb. chicken, in 1" chunks
1/4 c. soy sauce
3 T. honey
1 T. lime juice
1 minced garlic clove
2 T. peanut butter (smooth? chunky? natural? yes to all!)
1/2 t. curry powder
1 t. sriracha sauce (spicy chinese sauce - in most grocers in the asian section)
1/2 t. flour to thicken sauce (optional)
any chopped veggies you'd like

mix all ingredients except flour and veggies and marinade from 1/2 to 6 hours. cook chicken in sauce over medium heat for 7-8 minutes or until done. reduce heat and add veggies and flour (if desired). serve with rice.

chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies

oh. my. land. bake these cookies and then cancel your afternoon appointments in order to pig out in peace. found this recipe at (via pioneer woman - thank you, ree!) and the picture drew me in so i included it below - why would i ever try to top that picture? these work best if you chill the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours (or up to four days - just as good!), although the cookies themselves don't keep very well after 4 days or so - not that they'll probably be around that long. these would have been great at Christmastime... but i had a newborn and can say that these are also fantastic in january. or june. or right now - go bake!

chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies adapted from
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/2 t. baking powder
½ t. salt
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. canola oil
3 T. butter, melted
2 T. corn syrup
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 t. vanilla
1 ½ t. peppermint extract
1 c. powdered sugar

In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Melt the chocolate in the microwave on 50 percent power for 1 minute, stir, microwave for 15 seconds more and stir, repeat until melted; set aside.
In a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together sugar, oil, butter and corn syrup. Beat in the eggs, egg yolk, vanilla and peppermint extract. Then on low, beat in the melted chocolate. Add the flour mixture and beat on low speed. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough into 1-1.5 inch balls. Pour powdered sugar into a bowl. Roll each cookie dough ball in sugar. Arrange cookies on baking sheet and bake 12 to 14 minutes for crisp cookies, or 10-12 minutes for a chewier cookie.

simple fish marinade

well, it's been a while! i guess that happens when you have a baby. also, it means that you keep your eyes peeled for simple and quick recipes like this one! james requested fish for dinner since we've been on chicken as of late. here's a very easy marinade to throw your fish into up to two hours ahead of cooking - not much longer than that as the soy sauce can start to break down the fish after a while. last night we had this on sole, i believe we've done this same marinade on halibut and salmon before... it's pretty versatile. i baked our sole at 400 for about 4 minutes (it was thin), but you can pan fry this if you'd like... just cook it till your fish is flaky.

fish marinade
1/2 c. orange juice
1/4 c. soy sauce
1 t. ground ginger (or 1 T. grated fresh ginger)
1/2 t. pepper