Saturday, July 30, 2011

Orecchiette with Grilled Chicken, Shrimp & Dill

Back in April a very dear friend gave me the Barefoot Contessa's "How Easy Is That?" cookbook to celebrate my melanoma-free clearance from surgery.  (Yay!)   I've been drooling over the recipes and finally had a chance to make one.  I've adapted the Lobster & Shells recipe to fit my family's budget--lobster might be "very summer in the Hamptons" as Ina says, but, well, I don't live in the Hamptons...  :D  Here's my version; I think it has all the flavor of the original but is a much more manageable recipe for a family.

Orecchiette with Grilled Chicken, Shrimp & Dill

Olive Oil
1/2  pound  small pasta shells (I used orecchiette; any small shell shape will work as long as the corn can get stuck inside them)
3  Cups  Corn Kernels  (I used a 1-pound bag of Fire-Roasted Corn from Trader Joe's.  Mmm...! that subtle smokey flavor adds so much to the salad)
3/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
6  Green Onions, thinly sliced
1  Red Bell Pepper, seeded and small-diced
2  Cups  Cherry Tomatoes, halved
1/2  pound  Cooked Shrimp, roughly chopped  (if you can, buy a bag of broken shrimp pieces; it is cheaper and faster)
1/2  pound  Grilled Chicken breast, diced  (an excellent way to use up that left-over chicken from last night!)
1/4  Cup  Lemon Juice
Black Pepper to taste
1 1/2  Tablespoons  Dried Dill Weed, or to taste

Cook Pasta in boiling water with Salt and Olive Oil until al dente; drain and place in mixing bowl.  Add the Corn to the hot Pasta.  Gently stir in the Mayonnaise and Sour Cream, allow to cool slightly.  Add in the Green Onions, Red Bell Pepper, Cherry Tomatos, Shrimp, and Chicken.  Taste; add in Lemon Juice, Black Pepper and Dill to taste.  Serve chilled or at room temperature.  Serves 8. 

Thank you, dear Aria Gardens for sharing this lovely cookbook with me!

Friday, July 29, 2011

How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art!

O Lord my God!  When I in awesome wonder

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed:

When through the woods and forest glades I wander

And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees
When I look down

from lofty mountain grandeur

And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze:

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in;

That on the cross His burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin: 
When Christ shall come

With shout of acclamation

And take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!

Then I shall bow in humble adoration

and there proclaim, My God,

How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul,

my Savior God to Thee:

How great Thou art!

How great Thou art!

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:

How great Thou art!

How Great Thou Art!

~words and music by Stuart K. Hine

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Old Cookbooks and New Favorites

Isn't this a beautiful cookbook? 

My Grandmother has recently been going through her china, cupboards, and kitchen.  Today she had her family in and allowed each of us to choose some special items.  She had beautiful linens which she embroidered before she was married, heirloom silver from her wedding and anniversary gifts, china from her Grandfather's family; really too many special things to remember!  We all enjoyed remembering the times she would use this piece or that one at holiday gatherings.  After Mom and the Aunts all chose several pieces, we granddaughters had our turn.  And I chose the cookbook. 

Somehow old cookbooks just resonate with me.  Their worn bindings, frayed tabs, personal notes, and even the grease spots somehow bring me closer to my family.  Maybe it's because I can make the same recipes Grandma or Great-Grandma made for me; passing on the same home-heart and care that they showed me.

These are my three "favorite-est" old cookbooks.  The one in the back, the familiar 'red-check-design,' was given to me by my mother-in-law.  She took the time to find the same edition she was given at her wedding shower and then marked her favorite recipes with personal notes.  The colorful cookbook on the right front belonged to my father's grandmother.  It is the 1961 Edition, which I just love.  The illustrations are a combination of photographs and hand drawings, with the contributors so charmingly referred to as "Mrs. Edwin W. Fierke" or "Mrs. Richard Kranz, who serves this when neighbors drop in for morning coffee."  I'm simply smitten by the gracious formality.  And, of course, the red Betty Crocker is from my mother's mother.  I can't wait to sit down and find all her little jottings in it.

The recipe I have in the oven right now is from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from my mother-in-law.  My husband brought home plums the other night and requested a plum dessert.  I've made this recipe several times and we all enjoy it.  If you don't have a full 3 pounds of plums, you can add in apricots 'till you reach the full weight.

Wonderful Plum Crunch

3  pounds   Plums, pitted and quartered  (use firm Plums or it will be very runny)
1/4  Cup  Brown Sugar
1  Cup  Sugar
1  Cup  Flour
1/2  Teaspoon  Salt
1/2  Teaspoon  Cinnamon
1  Beaten  Egg
1/2  Cup  Butter, melted

Toss together the Plums and Brown Sugar; place in a greased 11 x 7 baking dish and set aside.

Sift together the Sugar, Flour, Salt and Cinnamon, add in beaten Egg; toss until mixture is crumbly.  Sprinkle over Plums.

Drizzle with melted Butter.  Bake at 375* for 45 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.  Serves 8.

Here it is, ready for the oven.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Things I've Learned

Things I've learned:

1/4 cup dried minced Onion is not equivalent to 1/4 cup chopped fresh Onion.  Not at all.
This was the first thing I learned.  It was a very onion-y meatloaf.  I was in about the 7th grade.

Hot tap water is not the same as boiling water.  Nope.  Huh-uh.  It's not.  The Jello won't dissolve in tap water. And no, it won't set up if it doesn't dissolve.
Found this out the hard way.  But our Sunday dinner company was gracious and ate the Lime Pear Pudding Sauce without complaining.

 It is possible to flop a cake mix.  Twice.  In one day.

Don't grease your pie plates when you are baking pie shells.  You'll end up with 5-inch cookies that taste like pie dough.  And you'll have to re-make the pie dough.

Make certain that your Crock-Pot works.  Before you invite company home from church.

Check to see if your honey even likes Artichokes before serving them as the main dish.

It is possible to burn the bottom out of a brand-new pressure canner on the first use.
It's a long story.

Always seed the Jalapenos before canning them. 

What have you learned?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Cheap Eats >> Mujadarrah

First off, I'd like to appologize for the un-appealing photo.
That is because Mujadarrah simply isn't a 'visually stunning' dish.

Second of all, I'd like to introduce you to a new series:
Cheap Eats.

If you are like me and have a growing family who has to live (much less, eat,) on a budget, then this series is for you.  And, if you are like me, and don't mind trying new recipes, then join me on this culinary adventure. 

I have found that the first way to cut dinner costs is to decrease the amount of meat in the dish.  There are two ways to do this:  a.) Use half as much meat and substitute with more vegetables in the side dishes, or b.) Serve a protein-balanced all-in-one vegetarian main dish.

So here is a main dish which qualifies for the "b." option.  While my family would resist going completely vegetarian, so far they haven't squalked at one or two meatless meals a week.  It sure helps, too, to have fresh veggies in the garden--can't wait 'till the corn comes off and we can make our dinner be just corn-on-the-cob.  My family is quite vocal in telling me if things aren't good, so all recipes are 'husband tested, kid-approved'. 

or, Lentils and Rice with Fried Onions

Prep Time:  10 minutes
Cook Time:  40 minutes
Ready in:  50 minutes
Serves:  4 (but it easily fed my hungry family of 6, with leftovers for about 2--how's that for cheap?!)

6  Tablespoons  Olive Oil
2  medium White Onions (sweet preferred), sliced into rings
1 1/3  Cups  uncooked Lentils
3/4  Cup  uncooked White Rice
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4  Cup  Sour Cream or Plan Yogurt, optional

Place Lentils in a medium saucepan with enough lightly salted water to cover.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 15 minutes.  Check the water level occasionally, adding more as needed to keep Lentils covered.

Heat the Olive Oil (start with 4 Tablespoons, adding more as needed) in a large skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  Stir in the Onions and cook about 15 minutes, until browned and starting to crisp.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Stir Rice and more water (enough to cover) into the saucepan with the Lentils.  Season with Salt and Pepper.  Bring to a boil, cover saucepan, and reduce heat.  Continue to simmer 15 to 20 minutes, until Rice and Lentils are tender.

Mix half the Onions into the Lentil and Rice mixture.  Top with Sour Cream or Yogurt and remaining Onions.  Simple and satisfying.

Now, if you like options, I thought this would be really good wrapped in a tortilla with some Lettuce and Salsa.  Maybe that's how we'll make those leftovers-for-two feed six for lunch tomorrow!

***My family likes more browned and crispy Onions than this calls for; I like to use 2 very large Onions.***

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Chinese Angel Food Cake with Tart Lemon Glaze and a Warm Blueberry Sauce

This delicate yellow sponge cake is really quite simple to make;
the recipe calls for whole eggs, no powdered sugar
and is not as sweet as a traditional Angel Food Cake.

Chinese Angel Food Cake

Prep Time:  20 minutes
Bake Time:  60 minutes
Serves:  16

8  large  Eggs, separated
2  Cups  Cake Flour,
               or substitute with 1 Cup sifted Flour, minus 2 Tablespoons,  for each cup of Cake Flour required
1 1/2  Cups  Sugar
1  teaspoon  Baking Powder
1/4  teaspoon  Salt
1/2  Cup  Oil
1/2  Cup  Water
1/2  teaspoon  Cream of Tartar
1/2  teaspoon  Lemon Extract

Preheat oven to 350*.   Grease Angel Food cake pan and set aside.

Separate Eggs into two bowls, placing Yolks in a large bowl and Whites in your mixer bowl.  To the Yolks, add the Cake Flour, Sugar, Baking Powder, Salt, Oil, and Water, mixing until blended.  Set aside.

To the Egg Whites, add Cream of Tartar and Lemon Extract; beat until stiff.  Gently fold the Egg White mixture into the Egg Yolk mixture until well-combined.  Pour the cake batter into the prepared Angel Food cake pan.

Bake at 350* on the lowest oven rack for 50 to 60 minutes or until the cake is light brown and the top springs back when gently touched.  Remove from oven and cool upside-down until completely cool.

And this is what happens if you forget to cool it upside down.  Pitiful, isn't it?
Oh well, it still tasted good!

Tart Lemon Glaze

1  Cup  Powdered Sugar
1  large  Lemon, Meyer preferred

Place the Powdered Sugar in your work bowl, set aside.  Zest half of the Lemon.  Finely chop the Zest, set aside.  Juice half of the Lemon, adding the juice to the Powdered Sugar.  Mix together the Lemon Juice and Powdered Sugar until smooth.  Gradually add in the juice from the other half of the Lemon until you get the consistancy of a thin glaze.  Stir in Lemon Zest and drizzle over the Chinese Angel Food Cake.

Warm Blueberry Sauce

1/2  Cup  Sugar
1  Tablespoon  Cornstarch
1/2  Cup  Water
1  Cup  fresh or frozen  Blueberries
1  Tablespoon  Butter

In a small saucepan combine the Sugar and Cornstarch; add Water.  Bring to a boil over medium heat; boil for 3 minutes, stirring constantly.  Stir in Blueberries; reduce heat.  Simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until Blueberries have burst.  Stir in Butter until melted.  Serve warm over Chinese Angel Food Cake.

I have adapted and expanded this recipe which was first published in Teri Watson's "Taste" column, The Sacramento Bee.  The original was requested by Edna Wong Yue and submitted by Jenlane Gee.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Zesty Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Verde Sauce

hands-on time:  35 minutes
total time:  55 minutes
serves:  6

Tomatillos resemble small green tomatoes with a papery outer husk and a delicious tart flavor.  Can't find them?  Try a shortcut version of the verde sauce by mixing a 16-ounce jar of mild green salsa with 1 cup of cream.

1  Tablespoon Olive Oil
1  pound Tomatillos (papery husks removed), chopped
1  White Onion, chopped
1  Poblano Pepper, seeded and chopped
4  cloves Garlic, chopped or crushed
3/4  teaspoon  Ground Cumin
Salt and Black Pepper
1  Cup  Heavy Cream
2  Cups  chopped cooked Chicken
1  14.5-oz can  Diced Tomatoes, drained
1 1/4  Cups grated Monterey Jack Cheese, divided
14  6-inch  Corn Tortillas
Pico de Gallo

Heat oven to 400*.  Heat the Olive Oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the Tomatillos, Onion,  Poblano, Garlic, Cumin and 1/2 tsp Salt.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10-12 minutes.  Transfer to blender or food processor, add the Cream, and puree.

In a large bowl, combine the Chicken, drained Diced Tomatoes, 1 Cup of the Cheese, 1/2 Cup of the Tomatillo Verde sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon each Salt and Black Pepper.

Warm the Corn Tortillas according to package directions.  Spread 1 Cup Tomatillo Verde sauce in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Roll the Chicken mixture in to Tortillas and place them in the dish, seam-side down.

Top with the remaining Tomatillo Verde sauce and Cheese.  Bake until beginning to brown, 10 to 15 minutes.  Serve with Pico de Gallo.
(Bake for 20-30 minutes if refrigerated.)

Adapted from Real Simple, May 2009

And now for a few questions:
Are you enjoying this blog?
Have you made any of the recipes from it?
If you have, were they good?
What kind of recipes would you like to see?
Is this a blog you would share with your friends?

I always appreciate feed back!  Thank You!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Shredded Chicken Salad

This recipe for Shredded Chicken Salad is a riff on the Chinese Chicken Salad that I posted a few weeks back.  The fresh salad ingredients are similar but the preparation and dressing are completely different.  It is said to be the recipe used by Ming's in Palo Alto.  I cut the original recipe out of the local newspaper earlier this spring and modified it.  Here is my version:

4 Chicken Quarters
1/4  Cup  Soy Sauce
2  Tablespoons Oil
2  Tablespoons White Wine
3  Cloves Garlic, minced or pressed
1/4  Teaspoon Dry Ginger
1/2  Teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice Powder, or substitute with Ground Cinnamon
6  Cups  finely shredded Romaine Lettuce
2  Bunches Cilantro  (yes, you really do want that much)
3-5  Green Onions, sliced on the diagonal
1/4  Cup  toasted Seasame Seeds
1 to 1 1/2  Cups salted Cashew Pieces
Black Pepper
2  Ounces Maifun (also called cellophane or rice noodles), fried according to instructions in the Chinese Chicken Salad Recipe

1/2  Teaspoon  Dry Mustard
1  Teaspoon  Sugar
2  Teaspoons  Soy Sauce
1  Tablespoon  Lemon Juice
Reserved Broth from Baked Chicken Quarters

Preheat oven to 400*.

In a small bowl, combine Soy Sauce, Oil, White Wine, Garlic, Ginger and Chinese 5-Spice Powder.  Rub both sides of Chicken Quarters with the Spice Mop.

Arrange Chicken Quarters, skin side up, on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 400* until tender and well-browned, about 45 minutes.  Remove Chicken Quarters to a cooling rack.  Transfer broth to a small bowl and freeze until fat has solidified.  Discard fat and set aside 1/2 Cup Broth for Dressing.  When Chicken Quarters are cool, strip the meat from bones and shred.

In a large bowl, combine Shredded Chicken, Cilantro and Green Onion.  Add Seasame Seeds and 3/4 cup of Cashew pieces.  Season with Black Pepper to taste.

Combine Dressing Ingredients, adding 1/4 Cup of reserved Broth.  Taste, adding more Broth as needed to flavor.  Toss Chicken mixture with dressing, adding more reserved Broth if needed to fully coat.  Stir in Maifun Noodles and top with remaining Cashews.  Serves 6.

And here are my tasters, who all approved of this recipe:

(Those peaches are the first crop off our own trees.  Don't they look yummy?)