"It's the company, not the cooking, that makes the meal!" ~Perilee 
(Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Spinach Salad with Honey-Brown Butter Dressing

This is a new salad dressing favorite. Jack thought the dressing was wonderful. It has a nice nutty flavor. I first made this back in October. Jack has been wanting it again, so today was the day and his brother Simon even raved about it so its a keeper!  Hats of to the Food Network chef Tyler Florence for adding to our family's favorite dressings.

4 Tablespoon butter 
1 shallot, chopped (I like it chopped finely) 
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey 
salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups baby spinach

Melt butter over medium heat.  Add the shallot and cook until the shallot is tender and butter turns a light brown color, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, hone, and salt and pepper.  Pour over spinach in a bowl and toss.

We have tried this over our regular salad greens and it is good, but I think it is wonderful with the taste of fresh spinach.

Tiramisu Bowl

So this isn't Jack's first choice of his favorite dessert--Tiramisu, but he still enjoys it and it is not labor intensive. We thank Kraft foods for this recipe.

1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
3 cups cold milk (I use fat free)
2 large boxes  Instant Jell-O pudding 
1 (8 oz) tub Cool Whip topping, thawed (I love Cool Whip Free)
48 Nilla Wafers
1/2 brewed Maxwell's House Coffee, cooled divided (I use a dark or semi-sweet hot chocolate)
2 squares Baker's Semi-sweet Chocolate, grated
1 cup fresh raspberries (I usually don't have them, but they are a nice touch when in season)

Beat cream cheese with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk and pudding mixes. Stir in 2 cups Cool Whip.
Line 2 1/2 quart bowl with 24 wafers; drizzle with 1/4 cup coffee/hot chocolate.
Top with half the pudding mixture and half the grated chocolate. Repeat layers, starting with wafers.
Top with remaining Cool Whip, raspberries. (I had grated chocolate on top to make it pretty). Refrigerate 2 hours. Makes 16 servings

Today I made only half a recipe and put it in a single later in a 8x8 Pyrex dish and it turned out great. My kids have fun helping me with this simple dessert.

Pasta e Fagioli--Jill's version Olive Garden Copy cat

This is one of our favorite soup dishes to make when the weather starts to turn cold.  The twins loved it as babies and could self feed themselves because everything was cut to finger food sizes for them. Every time I make this it gets good reviews and family and friends alike have asked for the recipe. We serve this soup with a nice green salad and Ciabatta bread or other Italian bread to dip in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  If we are really making it special we serve a Tiramisu for dessert.

1 lb ground beef (or Italian Sausage)-sometimes I do 50/50
1 onion, diced (1 cup)
1-3 carrots, julienned (we love carrots, but if you don't lean toward the 1 carrot)
3 Stalks celery chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.5 oz each ) cans diced tomatoes
1 (15 oz ) can tomato sauce
1 (12 oz) can V-8 juice * this is a new ingredient I have added for those of you who have my recipe already (11/12/08)
1 (15 oz) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz) can great northern beans, rinsed and drained (can substituted other white beans too)
3 cups beef broth or 2 (14.5 oz) cans beef broth
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 Tablespoon White Vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8-1/4 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (optional if you like your food with a little kick) 
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 lb Ditali pasta (small tube shaped)

Brown the ground meat in a large saucepan/pot over medium heat. Drain off most of the fat.  Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic and saute for 10 minutes.  Add remaining ingredients, except the pasta, and simmer for 1 hour.  About 50 minutes into the simmer time, cook the pasta in a separate pot for 10 minutes or just until pasta is al dente, or slightly tough. Drain and rinse (this helps the pasta not absorb the soup). Add the pasta to your pot of soup and simmer for 5-10 minutes then serve.

**This makes a ton of soup--Italian stew.  It freezes nicely, but I have learned from experience that it turns out better if you freeze the soup without the noodles and add them when you thaw and reheat. If not the pasta really breaks down and turns to mush. If you decided to freeze you might want to cut your amount of pasta down in the recipe so you don't end up with a warm pasta salad ;-)

Monday, November 10, 2008

Danish Meatballs

This is a Foodies menu from Jeana Pope.  She got this recipe from a friend who served in Denmark. I made some modifications noted with and *.  Thank you Jeana for this recipe and cultural experience.  This recipe will have to be cut in half if I make it for my little family again. This recipe served 6 adults (3 men, 3 women) and 6 small children with some leftovers.

1 lb ground beef  *Diet Lean meat 93% Fat 
1 lb ground pork (just ask your butcher for it)
2 large eggs

Mix meat and eggs together then add:
4 Tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1/4 cup milk or cream *1 % milk
1 medium onion finely diced
1 clove of garlic minced
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 3/4-1 teaspoon pepper

Form golfball size meatballs/patties and put them in the frying pan over medium heat covered for about 30 minutes. Check temperature of meat to make sure they are done. Use drippings from the meat as a gravy. Serve with pickled red cabbage and mashed potatoes. 

* We served ours with mashed potatoes, squash, fresh tossed green salad, and homemade rolls. I couldn't find the pickled red cabbage. Jeana said you can find it near the pickles in her local Albertsons you might have better luck than we do here in our small town. I also did some looking on the internet these meatballs are a staple for most Danes. They serve it with potatoes broiled, baked, mashed or with rice--take your choice. Most of their recipes are pretty basic without a lot of spices so this was kid friendly.

**Because I used lean meats I didn't have drippings for gravy, so I made a cup of beef base/broth and deglazed the pan with it and then added a flour thickener and salt to taste to make a small amount of gravy.  

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Jack and Jill's Tuna Salad on Crackers

Jack, the kids, and I love this quick meal for lunch.  It is relatively healthy if you don't go wild with the mayonnaise or over do it with crackers. We always eat a lot of crackers when we make it. It would be a good party food.

2 cans Tuna
1 avocado diced
1 tomato diced
2-4 Tbsp minced onion
A few drops Lemon juice
2 Tbsp Mayonnaise or to your liking 
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of Garlic salt (optional) or Salad Supreme seasoning --to taste

Combine the tuna, mayonnaise, onions, and lemon juice. Add the avocado and tomato and stir gently.

Serve on top of your favorite cracker or bread. Our favorite is crackers!