Monday, October 31, 2016

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

My directions can be found here - Halloween Countdown 2008. Basically toss the seeds with a bit of olive oil and salt (Wayne prefers garlic salt) and roast at 300 degrees for 30-40 minutes, stirring every so often. It's not necessary to let them dry overnight. That way the job can be completed while passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, if you actually carve the jack-o-lanterns on Halloween evening like we did this year.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Homemade Chicken Caesar Salad

Homemade Chicken Caesar Salad

for dressing:
1/3 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon crushed garlic

for salad:
romaine lettuce
diced tomatoes
sliced mushrooms
chicken, cooked and cubed

Combine the dressing ingredients and set aside. Toss the salad ingredients in a deep bowl. Spread the dressing over the top. Cover and refrigerate 4-24 hours. Toss and serve.

A New Pancake Recipe

While in Utah last week we had breakfast at Penny Ann's Cafe - the home of the heavenly hotcakes. According to the menu, the secret ingredient in their pancakes was sour cream. Over the years we've tried many different variations of pancakes, but I had forgotten that was a possibility. Since there was some sour cream in the refrigerator, it was time to try a new recipe. Pioneer Woman never disappoints, so we gave  her recipe a try. Wayne's verdict? "I like." We'll definitely be having these again sometime.

Edna Mae's Sour Cream Pancakes
(scaled for two*)

1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg

Combine dry ingredients, then gently fold in sour cream. Whisk egg and vanilla together, then fold into pancake mixture. Cook on a hot, buttered griddle. Serve with warm syrup if desired.

*This made four pancakes, using 1/4 cup batter for each. Our teenage sons wouldn't have considered just two enough, but it was perfect for two older people who are watching their caloric intake.

Another note: We had this recipe again, and once again it received the "I like" verdict. However, the centers were a bit doughy, and I remember that was the case last time, even though I cooked them at a lower temperature setting than normal. Next time we'll try making "dollar size" pancakes, or 8 instead of 4, but still to serve 2.

Tortilla Soup Knock-Off

During our layover in Dallas last weekend we ate dinner at Pappacito's Cantina. I wasn't feeling super hungry, so decided to try their tortilla soup. I'd never had a Mexican inspired soup without tomatoes and beans, but it was really delicious - so good that I tried finding a similar recipe online so I could make it again, but without success. That meant I had to try recreating it on my own. Here's what I came up with. I don't know how close it will be to their recipe, but I really liked it and will make it again someday.

Tortilla Soup

6 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 zucchini, chopped
1 can green chilies
2 chicken breasts/thighs, diced (optional)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon oregano
dash cayenne pepper
lots of salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons cornstarch in 1/2 cup water

Combine everything but the cornstarch and simmer until done. Add the cornstarch mix to thicken and serve with tortilla chips/strips and grated cheese. Avocado chunks would go with this nicely as well.

Notes: The zucchini was a bit mushy after simmering for an hour, so I probably should have added it later in the process. Wayne thought the would taste great with some big fat noodles added. Maybe there's a chicken noodle soup recipe that would be similar to this to give me some ideas for seasonings. It was great reheated for lunch later, even without tortilla chips and cheese, and there's some in the freezer so I can see how well that holds up.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Tuscan Tomato White Bean Soup

As Hurricane Matthew was approaching, we put up the hurricane shutters, and hunkered down inside our dark house. It seemed fitting to make a pot of soup, so we did. Because there were some white beans in the freezer to use, this is the recipe I chose.

Tuscan Tomato White Bean Soup

1 cup onions, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 can (28 ounce) tomatoes
3-4 cups cooked white beans
4-5 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for about 20 minutes. Blend with an immersion blender. Garnish with croutons and mozarella cheese if desired.

Notes: This was fine, but not quite what we were expecting. I took what was left and used the regular blender to make it super smooth, then added some cream to make a Cream of Tomato Soup. We liked this version better, and it's an acceptable way to use up the dried white beans sitting in food storage. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Turkey Tetrazzini


Turkey Tetrazzini

7 ounces thin spaghetti, broken in half
2 cups cubed, cooked turkey
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 can cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning*
1/8 teaspoon dry ground mustard
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 taplespoon shredded Parmesan cheese
minced fresh parsley

Cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain and place in a greased baking dish. Top with turkey and set aside.
In a skillet, saute the mushrooms and onion in the butter. Whisk in the soup, milk and seasonings. Then stir in the cheddar cheese until melted. Pour over the turkey. Top with remaining cheese and bake, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 4-6.

*You can make your own poultry seasoning; just combine the following ingredients.

2 teaspoons ground sage
1 1⁄2 teaspoons ground thyme
1 teaspoon ground marjoram
3⁄4 teaspoon ground rosemary
1⁄2 teaspoon nutmeg
1⁄2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

However, I just sprinkled in some sage, thyme, marjoram and pepper.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sunday Dinner

The inspiration for our dinner today came from here. I have no idea what chicken paillards* are, but it worked well with chicken thighs and the leftover couscous in the refrigerator. It turned out well, and since someday in the future I may be looking for a quick and easy dinner once again, here it is.
Sunday Dinner

Saute some onions and garlic in a bit of olive oil. When limp, stir in a can of diced tomatoes. Add basil, salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for a bit. Combine some chicken broth with a tablespoon of cornstarch and stir into the pan to thicken. Serve over cooked chicken thighs and couscous.

*So I looked it up: a paillard is a piece of meat, chicken or fish that is pounded thin and seared quickly. Next time I pound my chicken breast, I'll have to call it a paillard! And just so you know, if you coat your pounded meat with flour before cooking it, it becomes a scaloppine.

French Bread

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, but it's been in my "tried and true" binder for a long time. You'll have to let me know if it's the "best ever" but we like it.

Best Ever French Bread

2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling water
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
6 1/4 cups flour
1 egg white
2 tablespoons water

In a large bowl, combine shortening, 1/4 cup sugar and salt. Pour boiling water over it and mix; cool to lukewarm.

Dissolve yeast in warm water and 1 teaspoon sugar. Add to cooled liquid. Stir in flour all at once. It may look like it's too much, but just continue stirring until it's all mixed.

Cover; allow to stand for ten minutes. Stir again; cover; allow to stand for ten minutes. Repeat for an hour total time.

Divid the dough in half and on a floured surface, roll each half into a rectangle, then roll up like a jelly roll.

Place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray and dusted with cornmeal. Cut slashes in top. Brush tops with a mixture of the egg white and 2 tablespoons water.

Cover and allow to rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with egg white mixture again half-way through if desired.

Can divide in half to make just one loaf.
Wheat: Change white sugar to brown; substitute 2-3 cups wheat flour for some of the white.
Cheese: Add 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or any other cheese.
Herb & Onion: Add 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning and 1/4 cup minced dried onions. Experiment with other herbs like dill and rosemary
Cheesy Garlic Bread: Bake bread above and slice in half when cool. Combine 1 cup butter/margarine, 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 teaspoons parsley and 1 tablespoon minced garlic. Spread on bread and broil until golden brown.
When we tried our new recipe, Pickled Shrimp, the day before, Wayne mentioned it would be nice to have some french bread to mop up the olive oil. Since I didn't feel like going to the store, I made some. It was a perfect accompaniment to our yummy appetizer.

Flounder with Vegetable Couscous

The inspiration for this recipe came from here. To make this I cooked some couscous in chicken broth, chopped up some onion, zucchini, red pepper, celery and garlic, sauteed the vegetables then mixed in the couscous with salt, pepper, oregano and basil to taste. I cooked the flounder - doesn't take long with these super thin filets - and served it with a simple Dijon Vinaigrette, made by combining a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a tablespoon of white wine vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil with salt and pepper to taste. There you go!

Creamy Bacon Salad Dressing

Creamy Bacon Salad Dressing

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

Combine and chill for at least 2 hours. Serve over salad greens.

from the Taste of Home Magazine 
August/September 2003