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

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Stir-Fried Tofu and Bok Choy in Ginger Sauce

Quin loved this recipe and everyone else simply enjoyed the new experience of mom trying to cook tofu.
(The Best Light Recipe cookbook, pgs 290; 292)
One pound of bok choy may used in place of regular bok choy if available; simply quarter it lengthwise. Pressing the tofu expels moisture, which helps the tofu to achieve a golden brown exterior. It is important to us FIRM or EXTRA FIRM TOFU in this recipe.

1 (14 oz) package firm or extra-firm tofu
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoon dry sherry
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed trough a garlic press (about 1 Tablespoon)
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
3 scallions, white parts minced and green parts cut into 1/4-inch lengths
5 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 lb. bok choy (1 small head), stems and leaves separated, stems trimmed and cut crosswise 1-inch thick, leaves torn in large pieces.
2 carrots, peeled and cut in to 2-inch matchsticks
1 recipe Ginger Sauce (see below)

Place the tofu in a pie plate and set a heavy plate on top of it. Weight the plate with 2 heavy cans (such as 28-oz can tomatoes) and let drain for 15 to 25 minutes. Cut the drain tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.

Toss the tofu with the soy sauce and sherry in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, scallion whites, and 2 teaspoons of the oil.

Heat 1 more teaspoon oil in a 12-inch non-stick over high heat until just smoking. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the tofu to clean bowl.

Add 1 more teaspoon oil to the pan and return to high heat until shimmering. Add the bok choy stems and cook until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Transfer the stems to a clean bowl. Add the remaining teaspoon oil and the carrots to the pan and cook until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Return the bok choy stems and the leaves to the pan and toss until the leaves begin to wilt, about 30 seconds.

Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic mixture. Cook, mashing the garlic mixture into the pan with the back of a spatula, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Stir the garlic mixture into the vegetables. Add the scallion greens and tofu and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine, then add it to the pan and bring to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and toss until all the ingredients are well coated with sauce and sizzling hot. Serve immediately.
Yeilds 4 servings
Per serving:Cal 240 Fat 14g Sat Fat 2g Chol 0 mg Carbs 16g Protein 15g Fiber 4 g Sodium 1070mg

Ginger Sauce (make enough for 1 Stir-Fry recipe)
This classic sauce has a clean bright ginger flavor that complements any meat, seafood, or tofu

6 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
6 Tablespoons low-sodium chicken broth
2 Tablespoons dry sherry (I just use sherry cooking wine)
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Combine all the ingredients except the ginger in a bowl and set aside.
Add the ginger to the garlic mixture in step 1 of the stir-fry recipe

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Dreamy Layered Jello Salad

My sister-in-law made this jello for Sunday dinner and it was a hit. I usually have the jello assignment and they always get 5 stars, (I learned how to make killer jello from my mom--she new all the right flavors and fruit combos to put together). What I make is the simple jello with fruit in it nothing fancy like this recipe (though my family recipe book has many fancy jello salad recipes). Jack's family has nicknamed me Jill-O. When I told them I didn't have a Jell-O label on my blog they were shocked. So in tribute to our "must have" Sunday dinner side there is now a Jello salad label.

1 large pkg. Strawberry-banana jello
8 oz crushed pineapple & juice
1 cup hot water
1 large pkg. frozen strawberries
2 small cubed bananas
1 cup walnuts (optional)

Stir all together. Pour 1/2 in bowl and let set up.

8 oz sour cream
1 Tablespoon sugar

Mix and pour over first half of set up jello. Pour second half jello over sour cream. Chill until set up.

** We would change this recipe by replacing the sour cream with whip topping or cool whip. We also thought it needed more jello, but I haven't tried doubling just the jello to (2 pks jello and 2 cups of water which is not made according to the pkg directions)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Raspberry Cheesecake-Lion House

I love cheesecake and raspberries! I enjoy making baked cheesecakes so when I saw the recipe title I put the needed items on my grocery list and waited anticipated the Sunday Dinner when I would have dessert as my assignment.  When it arrived I was disappointed that it wasn't an actual cheesecake, but learned my lesson to read the entire recipe and not just look at the pictures in the book.  Even though I felt miss lead it turned out tasty and was a hit with my niece Jessica as well as everyone else. I made some modifications on how I would actually put the cake together--you start to think differently about presentation if you think you are actually going to take a picture of the darn thing and share it with others---LOL. It has brought a fun challenge to meal prep and my family finds it enjoyable too.
**This recipe is similar to one my sister Sherri makes with her wonderful homemade white cake. Which she makes in to a memorable Strawberry Shortcake of sorts

1 package white cake mix
2 -8 oz packages of cream cheese softened at room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar
1 pint whipping cream whipped (I tried Lion House Stabilized cream recipe--great!)
2 16 oz cans raspberry pie filling (When I make this again I will use the Danish Junket that my mother ALWAYS uses. I had been taught better than to used canned! Junket taste SO MUCH BETTER!!!)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour two 9 x 13 baking pans. Prepared cake according to  package directions.  Pour half of cake batter into each pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until cake test done.  Remove from oven and cool.

In a medium bowl, whip cream cheese and powdered sugar together until fluffy. Whip whipping cream separately, then add to cream cheese mixture.  Divide the mixture and spread half of it onto each cake.  Refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes 24 to 30 servings.

Chicken Cutlets with Current Sauce

This tasty little dish is one we were served at Lynnette's house just after moving to Connecticut for graduate school (2001). She is an amazing cook!! I don't think there is a dish I have eaten at her table that I haven't requested the recipe for. Jack loved this dish so much that our first year in CT I made it for our anniversary dinner (He doesn't even remember, but I do because it was probably the most involved recipe I had ever cooked. Now that I am more experienced I think back to that night and laugh that it took me so long to prepare this chicken dish. I am so grateful for Lynnette's willingness to share with me and teach me as I learned to enjoy cooking.  She continues to be an inspiration to me today and I am glad, because it is always good!

Chicken or Turkey Cutlets (I use Chk. tenders and pound them flat)
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
Pinch ground cloves
Pinch ground allspice
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cinnamon sticks-3 inches each
1 Large Shallot (approx. 3 Tablespoons)
2 Medium garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons fresh minced ginger
1 cup red cooking wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3 Tablespoons Currents
2 Tablespoons Parsley
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (in skillet about 4 minutes)

Mix brown sugar, cayenne pepper, gloves, and allspice in small bowl and set aside.

Saute chicken at high temperature with olive oil (fast) take out of pan saving drippings. Cover under foil. Add olive oil the spice mixture and cinnamon sticks, and cook stirring constantly until fragrant--about 1 minute.

Add shallot cook one minute more.  Then add garlic and ginger, cook additional 30 seconds.

Add wine, chicken stock or broth, currents, and any juices that are now on the plate with the covered chicken.  Increase heat to high and bring to boil while scrapping the bottom of the skillet.  Boil until it reduces to 1/3 cup or similar to a runny gravy.

Take off hear and discard cinnamon sticks.  Whisk in butter until melted. Stir in parsley; season to taste with salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over cutlets, sprinkle with almonds and serve.

Serve with Wild Rice with a handful of Crasins, slivered almonds or pecans tossed in just before serving. (Use Zatarain's New Orleans style-Long Grain and Wild Rice: saute onions in the butter and then cook the rices as directed on the box in the same pan.)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Roasted Parmesan Potatoes-Lion House Entertaining

We enjoyed these potatoes as a Sunday dinner side dish. Lion House Entertaining listed them in their Brunch menus. The kids and adults alike enjoyed the flavor of this dish.

4 medium potatoes, peeled (I used Yukon and scrubbed them well and left the peel)
1 Tablespoon oil (I used Olive Oil)
3 Tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 450, Line a cookie sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Cube potatoes and place in medium bowl; toss with oil.  In another bowl, combine Parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Add to potatoes and toss to coat evenly.

Arrange potatoes on baking sheet and bake about 25 minutes or until light brown, turning once halfway through baking. Makes 4 servings

Healthy Chips and Dip

I am posting this per request from my sister. This is a simple way of making your own low-fat crisps from tortillas. The kids love them and they are so simple to make. I nice after school snack if you ask me. I got these ideas years ago from "Parents" magazine-November 2006. We typically make PLAIN and eat them with salsa, but they suggest other great options which I have posted for your enjoyment too.

Sweet Wheat
2 whole-wheat burrito-size tortillas
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Lean Green
2 spinach burrito-size tortillas
1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of nutmeg

Tasty Tomato
2 sun-dried tomato burrito-size tortillas
1 Tbs. grated Parmesan
Pinch of paprika

Flour Tortillas (we don't add seasonings)
Follow the spritzing directions and bake as directed. These are our favorite.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Cut tortillas into wedges. In a large bowl, sprinkle tortillas with seasonings and toss.  Spray with vegetable cooking spray, coating well. Place chips in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until crisp.

Robust Ranch
Combine 1/3 cup ranch dressing with 3 Tablespoons cottage cheese.

Sweet Salsa
1/2 cup prepared mild salsa, 1/4 cup corn kernels, 1/4 tsp. sugar

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Baked Beef Penne Pasta

This is a crowd pleaser every time I make it. I love that it comes together quickly and that it makes enough to feed my family and have some to freeze for later. This recipe is a combination of a 5 star dish off of meals.com and my friend Lisa Fox's Lasagna sauce.  We serve it with a steamed seasonal vegetable or a nice toss salad. When company joins us we add a nice bread too.  

1 lb dried penne pasta prepared according to package directions
8 oz lean ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 cups water
1 (14 oz) can Tomato Sauce
1 teaspoon Basil leaves
1 teaspoon Oregano leaves
1 Tablespoon Brown Sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 red cooking wine or water
1 Tablespoon INSTANT beef flavor bouillon
2 cups (8 oz) shredded Monterey Jack Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cook beef and onion in a large saucepan, stirring occasionally, until beef is no longer pink.  Add water, tomato paste, wine and bouillon; cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes or until flavors are blended.

Layer ingredients as follows in UNGREASED 13 x 9 baking dish: 1/2 pasta, 1/2 sauce, and 1/2 cheese. Repeat layers; cover
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Season with salt.

Freeze (for later use)
Prepare as above, do not bake.  Cover, freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted. Season with salt.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Salmon with Brown Sugar and Mustard Glaze

It was a warm winter day today--high 40's/low 50's so what do you do...Get and itch to Grill!! is a food network--Bobby Flay recipe. Every time I make it Jack can't get enough. My boys love it too. Tonight Cameron said, "Mommy, this is very NUMMY!" Everyone cleaned their plates and asked for seconds. This is definitely a keeper!

3 Tablespoons light brown sugar
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons butter

Melt together in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and whisk in 

1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon finely grated ginger

Salmon 8 salmon fillets, 6 oz each (I buy frozen Salmon at Costco which is skinless or I buy their fresh fillets if I can swing it right.  We use three of the prepackaged fillets)
Vegetable oil (I use olive)
salt and pepper

I lightly coat the salmon with oil, then salt and pepper on one side. 

Preheat your grill to medium heat (10-15 minutes). Place the salmon skin side down (I just look at the fillet and try to pick which side I thought the skin was on ;-) ) Coat the flesh of the salmon fillets with the brown sugar mixture. Grill for 6 to 8 minutes to medium doneness, turning once, then cook 5 to 6 minutes more. 

I like to serve this with green beans, and wild rice.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Chicken-Barley Soup Crock pot

1 medium onion, finely chopped
4 celery stalks, finely chopped
5 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper (original recipe calls for 1 tsp.)
2 lbs cooked chick breast, cut into bite-sized pieces (I used 2 boneless chicken thighs and 8 chicken tenders)
1/2 cup barley, picked over and rinsed
2 Tablespoons butter
3 14.4 oz cans chicken broth
1 cup water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon Tabasco sauce (about 2 shakes)

Place the vegetables, garlic, salt, and pepper in the slow cooker. Top with chicken pieces, barley, butter, broth, water, and bouillon. DO NOT STIR. Cover and cook on Low for  8 hours (I cooked mine on high for 3-4 hours). Before serving, stir in parsley and Tabasco sauce.

We ate it without the parsley and Tabasco, because I forgot to add it. My boys told me this was so good and they gobbled it down. I love the simplicity of this recipe and that it doesn't call for a lot of extra spices.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Calypso Black Beans and Rice and Taquitos

My family enjoyed this meal. It makes it a TON so be prepared for left overs. I served it with Chicken Taquitos and it was a lot of food.  The black beans and rice are suppose to a meal by itself.  It says it serves four generously, but it fed my family of four with left overs for another meal. On the second day we served it as a side dish on a last minute family pot lock Mexican dinner (four adults and 6 kids and there was still more left). It still got good reviews from everyone. We LOVE  extra LIME juice on top!

Calypso Black Beans

This is Claudia Bushman's recipe from 5 Star Latter Day Saint recipes.

1 cup peppers (various colors), diced
1 cup onions, chopped
2 Tablespoons prepared garlic
Half a dozen good shakes of hot pepper sauce (I used 1/8 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper made it kid friendly, but there wasn't much of a kick)
2 (16 oz) can black beans, drained
2/3 cups water
Salt and pepper, to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 (10 oz) package, yellow rice mix (I found it at Walmart in the Mexican section)
1 tomato, diced
2 limes, cut in wedges

In an olive-oil-sprayed skillet, saute pepper and onions over medium-high heat until somewhat cooked. Add prepared garlic and half a dozen food shakes of hot pepper sauce. Add black beans and water. Cook for 6 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook yellow rice mix according to package directions. Put rice on a platter and spoon bean mixture over rice. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over the rice. Top with diced tomatoes and the other lime, cut in wedges and place on the side. (We also added slices of avocado, cilantro, and a dollop of sour cream.)
Serves 4 generously !!!!

Simple Chicken Taquitos--Sarah Babbel's recipe

Cooked Chicken
Corn Tortillas (White or Yellow Corn)
Taco Seasoning packet
Canola oil

Cut or shred chicken with a fork. Place in a bowl and add a season packet. (Jack and I thought ours were a little dry so we might try adding cream cheese to them or something else to add moisture--it might have been because I used canned chicken instead of using freshly prepared chicken).
Add a small amount of oil to a skillet and add a corn tortilla one at a time to warm them so that they are easier to roll up. Add desired amount into corn tortillas, roll it up, carefully place in the pan with oil. ( I found seam side down to help them stay rolled up. Placing several in the pan at one time also helps.) Turn them until all sides were cooked.
Eat with guacamole, salsa, or beans.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Chicken/Turkey Noodle Soup

This is my version of the Turkey (Chicken) Noodle soup from Cooking Light. Enjoy fresh veggies, tender chicken and noodles. This was a hit with my kids. I guess they love soups like Jack and I. I love that it is healthy and comes together quick, just 35 minutes.

Cooking spray
1-2 cups (1/4-inch) sliced carrots
2 cups chopped leeks or 3/4 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 1/2 cups (4 oz) uncooked egg noodles
1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 bay leaf
2 cups shredded chicken (I used Boneless Chicken Thighs)
Coarsely ground black pepper (optional)

Heat a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; saute 5 minutes or until onions are lightly browned.  Add celery, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; saute 3 minutes.  Add broth and next 3 ingredients (through bay leaf); bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.  Add shredded chicken; cook 3 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Sprinkle with coarsely ground black pepper, if desired.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Strawberry Soup

This soup is AWESOME!!!! It is a cold soup. I thought it odd to be served it in the winter months, but I am sure enjoyed it anyway. The caterer that served the Clinic Christmas Party got this from a chef on their cruise last year. We had a similar soup on our cruise that was peach flavored. They are so smooth, creamy and DELICIOUS!!! I would serve this as an appetizer or a dessert.

2 cups frozen strawberries
2 cups cranberry/raspberry juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon juice

Mix together all above ingredients

1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup Amaretto coffee-mate creamer
1 cup Half and Half
Mix into above mixture.
Pour into blender. Mix and serve.

"Stupid Easy Good Crusty Peasant Bread"

Lynnette calls this "stupid easy bread" because you mix the ingredients together and let it rest on the counter all day, knead it about 10 times and bake it. The results an awesome artisan bread that looks like you bought it at a bakery. I have seen this recipe on other blogs (Sisters Cafe and others-they are all a little different but their roots are all the same tracing back to a New York Times food column.) Thank you Lynnette for sharing your version and making me look good! My family loves it!! It is SUPER EASY and if I can make this gorgeous bread anyone can.
**I use all water 1 1/4 cups and the 1 Tablespoon of White Vinegar for my liquids and followed the recipe as instructed.  It has turned out great every time! I also used my huge dutch oven turkey roaster pan and cooked two loafs side by side with no problem.  Jack wants me to try to par bake them--up to the point where you remove the lid cool it and freeze it then we can bake it the rest of the way and have it hot and fresh when we want it.
Lynnette's recipe and instructions:

3 cups (15 ounces) unbleached flour

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast (cheat and add a little more yeast if you are in a hurry)

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 plus 2 tablespoons (7 ounces) water, at room temperature or a little bit warmer

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons lager beer (I use O'Dooles non-alcoholic or even water if I'm out of beer)

1 tablespoon white vinegar (this gives a slight sourdough flavor, substitute 1 tablespoon water if you prefer)

Put flour, yeast, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Dump in water, beer, and vinegar. Stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy ball forms. I usually end up mixing with my hand to make sure all the flour is mixed with the liquid. No need to knead. Really. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for about 4 to 8 hours, or more, on the countertop. Sometimes I mix the dough just before bed and bake mid-morning the next day. If you need more time before you are ready to bake the bread punch the dough down and let rise again. And again, if you need.

Place a sheet of parchment paper over a medium mixing bowl. Spray parchment with cooking spray. Dump dough onto a lightly floured counter top and gently knead about 10 turns. Shape dough into a ball and transfer to prepared parchment paper. The dough and paper will sink into the bowl Cover bowl lightly with plastic wrap and let rise about 1 hour. 

Place a 6-qt enameled cast iron dutch oven with a tight fitting lid into the oven and preheat to 500 degrees while dough rises, at least 30 minutes. If your dutch oven has a plastic-type handle it will stink at high temperatures. I ordered a metal replacement knob for my pot.

Reduce oven heat to 425 degrees. Dust top of loaf with flour and using your sharpest knife, make 3 slashes over top of loaf. Remove super hot lid from top of pot. Using parchment paper as a sling, lift dough out of bowl and gently place into preheated pot, paper and all. The parchment paper will stick up all around the sides. Don't worry, just put the lid on as tightly as possible and bake for 30 minutes. NO PEEKING. Remove lid and continue baking for 5 to 10 minutes more until loaf is a deep golden brown. Dump loaf out of pan, place onto cooling rack, remove and discard toasted parchment paper, and let loaf cool for at least 45 minutes before cutting. If bottom of loaf is too dark reduce the oven temperature by 5 or 10 degrees and/or reduce baking time next time.

Other versions:

Asiago Cheese Bread:

To the original recipe add 1/2 cup (2 ounces) asiago cheese (cut into little tiny cubes) into flour mixture. Proceed with recipe. This is my current favorite bread - so full of flavor and texture. It makes amazing panini sandwiches. 

Cranberry Walnut Bread:

To the original recipe add 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts and 1/2 cup dried cranberries (craisins) into flour mixture. Proceed with recipe.