Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies

I have not done a lot of baking since settling into the motor home and I was definitely craving something sweet and so I tried these blondies.  Blondies are like a brownie without the chocolate and in addition to having pumpkin in them, these bars also have white chocolate and butterscotch chips in them.  I love Blondies...don't get me wrong, I love brownies as well, but every once in a while it's nice to have these.  Just like my favorite ice cream flavor is plain vanilla, a blondie is just the right treat.

Pumpkin Butterscotch Blondies
Makes 24 squares

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated or brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 9x13-inch baking dish with foil or parchment, leaving an overhang on the long sides.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.  Add the pumpkin puree and continue mixing until well combined.  On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated.  Using a rubber spatula, fold in the white chocoloate and 1 cup of the butterscotch chips (and nuts, if using).

Spread the batter evenly in the prepared pan, then sprinkle the remaining butterscotch chips over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached.  Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely before cutting.

From Cook Like a Champion

Our rating:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pumpkin Lasagne

For the third installment of pumpkin week, I turned to a tasty lasagne recipe which incorporated what else but pumpkin puree in the filling.  I was intrigued with this recipe since it had all the traditional components of lasagne but with the addition of pumpkin puree.  The sauce was made with onion, garlic, Italian sausage meat, red wine, tomato sauce and herbs.  I used traditional lasagne noodles, which I cooked before assembling.  I mixed the pumpkin puree with an egg and added the ricotta, shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.  The recipe also had a layer of thinly sliced zucchini between layers.

The pumpkin in this recipe was just a little hint of something different and quite interesting.

Pumpkin Lasagne
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound Italian sausage, casings removed
1/4 cup red wine
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 lasagne noodles
1 egg
1 1/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 medium zucchini, very thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Place the pumpkin puree in a fine sieve over a bowl; set aside to drain while making the sauce.

Heat the tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until translucent, 6 to 7 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 2 more minutes. .  Add the sausage and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon.  Pour in the wine and cook until reduced by half.  Stir in the tomato sauce and herbs and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Season with salt and pepper, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the lasagne noodles and cook as the label directs.  Drain and set aside.

Mix the strained pumpkin puree with the egg in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.  Add the ricotta, half of the mozzarella and the Parmesan.

Build your lasagne in an 8 x 8" square baking dish.  Start with a layer of sauce, then top with a layer of lasagne noodles (I cut the excess off the end of two noodles and used the cut pieces for the third row of noodles).  Evenly spread half of the pumpkin/ricotta mixture, then half of the zucchini over the noodles.  Cover with some of the sauce.  Repeat the layers, finishing with noodles and sauce; sprinkle with the remaining  mozzarella.  Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly.  Let cool 15 minutes before slicing.

Slightly adapted from Robert Irvine

Our rating:

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pumpkin Muffins

For the second day of Pumpkin week, I decided to turn to breakfast for inspiration.  These pumpkin muffins are from an Ellie Krieger recipe so not only are they delicious, but good for you as well.  A muffin and a little yogurt make the perfect quick breakfast for me and I love it when I know the muffin is as healthy as the yogurt.  It's a great way to start the day.

Pumpkin Muffins
Makes 1 dozen

Cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-grain pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsulphered molasses
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1/4 cup pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Coat a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves. 

In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, molasses, oil and 1 egg until combined.  Add the other egg and whisk well.  Whisk in the pumpkin and vanilla.  Whisk in the flour mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk.  Whisk just until combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pumpkin or sunflower seeds, if using.  Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles.  Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of one of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes.  Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold.  Cool completely on the rack.

Slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger

Our rating:

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Pumpkin Risotto

With everyone in town for Val and Jason's Pumpkin Carving day yesterday, we decided to celebrate my birthday with the family by going out to brunch this morning.  Rick's Chophouse in McKinney (which is the restaurant associated with the ballroom where our youngest daughter got married) started doing a Sunday morning brunch a few weeks ago and after trying it out, I knew that is where I wanted to go.  It was a lovely time spent with superb food surrounded by my wonderful, loving family.  Based on all the food we consumed around noontime, I knew I wanted something relatively simple for dinner and I have decided to do a week of pumpkin filled recipes. 

I am amazed at the many different ways pumpkin puree can be used.  I normally would have bought a real pumpkin, cut it up, cooked it and pureed it myself, but with the confined space in the motor home, I have decided to use simply canned pumpkin puree.

This recipe was a great way to kick off pumpkin week.

Pumpkin Risotto
Makes 2-3 servings

1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup arborio rice
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1/2 cup dry white wine
a generous 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup pumpkin puree
salt and pepper to taste
chopped scallions for garnish

In a small pot heat the chicken stock and white wine and keep warm over low heat.

In a skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute onion, bell pepper and garlic until the onions begin to soften.  Now add in the rice and saute until it begins to look translucent.  Begin adding 1 cup of the stock/wine mixture to the rice.  As it cooks, continue to stir so that the rice doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.  Once most of the liquid is absorbed, add another cup of the warm stock/wine mixture.  Continue until the rice is fully cooked adding a cup of stock at a time and stirring until absorbed.  Be sure to test the rice by tasting and seeing if the center of the grains are still hard.  If you run out of stock/wine before they are tender, add a little water.  Once the rice is tender, stir in the cheese and pumpkin.

Serve hot with the sliced scallions on top.

Barely adapted from A Beautiful

Our rating:


Saturday, October 27, 2012

Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches

We spent the day at my oldest daughter's house for their annual Pumpkin Carving day.  Halloween is Val and Jason's favorite holiday (right up there with Christmas) and they decided to start this tradition about 4 years ago.  Everyone brings a pumpkin and they provide the stencils and the tools for carving.  Valerie also makes very fun and spooky Halloween treats and this year asked us each to bring a haunted treat with us.  I brought Mummified Hot Dogs which were hot dog halves stuffed with a sliver of cheddar cheese before being wrapped in strips of seasoned, buttered phyllo dough.  These were very tasty but didn't quite have enough of a mummy look.  It was a wonderful day full of decadent treats and though it was a cool start to the day, it turned out to be a beautiful afternoon.

All the pumpkins

Ethan's pumpkin (aka Woody)

I had already planned these Vietnamese sandwiches for dinner since I knew we would want real food, but not something too heavy and it worked out perfectly.  It was just the right amount of food.  These sandwiches used marinated chicken breasts which were grilled for the meat component instead of slow cooked beef and although they were good, I still want to make a more traditional Banh Mi for Gerry.  He, however, did have no complaints about these sandwiches tonight.

Vietnamese Banh Mi Sandwiches
Makes 4 servings

1/4 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 chopped jalapeno
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup hot tap water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 carrots, sliced thin on the bias
2 daikon radishes, sliced thin on the bias
4 soft sub rolls
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 of an English cucumber, sliced thin
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (or mint)
1/2 jalapeno, sliced, for extra heat (optional)

Mix the first six ingredients in a baking dish.  Add chicken breasts to the dish, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.  Longer is better!

Stir the hot tap water and sugar in a medium bowl, until the sugar dissolves.  Add the vinegar, salt, red pepper, sliced carrots and radishes.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the grill to medium.  Grill the chicken breasts for 5 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and cover them with foil to rest for 5 minutes.

Open the sub rolls and grill the insides for about 1-3 minutes - until toasted.  Drain the pickled veggies.  Slice the chicken into thin pieces.

Spread mayo over the sub rolls.  Layer the cucumbers, chicken, pickled veggies, cilantro leaves and jalapenos in the rolls.

Serve immediately.

Adapted from A Spicy Perspective

My rating:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chicken Basquaise

This is a classic dish from the Basque region in France and one that I have not made in years.  The recipe I made years ago contained red and green peppers, onions, tomatoes, a little heat from spices and some chopped up ham.  The current recipe I used had the same traditional ingredients with the exception of the ham which I actually liked better.  I used to find the ham a little too salty and overwhelming for the dish.  This is a good, hearty fall dish that scented the entire motor home while I was making it.

Chicken Basquaise
Makes 4-6 servings

2 big Spanish or Vidalia onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 green bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
3 mild chiles (or another red pepper)
6 tomatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons sea salt, or more to taste
Pinch of sugar
2 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
1/4-1/2 teaspoon Anaheim chile powder or plain chili powder
Freshly ground pepper
1 chicken, about 4 pounds, preferably organic, cut into 8 pieces or 8 chicken thighs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup dry white wine
White rice, for serving
Minced fresh basil and/or cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Cut the onions in half form top to bottom.  Lay each piece flat side down and cut in half again from top to bottom, stopping just short of the root end; cut each half onion crosswise into thin slices.

Put a Dutch oven or large high sided skillet with a cover over medium heat and pour in 2 tablespoons of the oil.  Warm the oil for a minute, then toss in the onions and cook stirring, for 10 minutes, or until softened but not colored.

Meanwhile, cut the peppers and chiles in half, trim the tops, remove the cores, and remove the seeds.  Cut the bell peppers lengthwise into strips about 1/2 inch wide.  Thinly slice the chiles.

Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot, stir in the peppers and chiles, cover, and reduce the heat to medium-low.  Cook and stir for another 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are quite soft.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, salt, sugar, thyme, bay leaf, chili powder, and freshly ground pepper to taste, stir well, cover, and cook for 10 minutes more.  Remove the cover and let the piperade simmer for another 15 minutes.  You'll have a fair amount of liquid in the pot, and that's fine.  Remove the thyme and bay leaf.  Taste and add more salt, pepper, or chili powder if you think it needs it.

Pat the chicken pieces dry.  Warm the oil in a dutch over or other heavy casserole over medium-high heat.  Add a couple of chicken pieces, skin side down (don't crowd the chicken - do this in batches), and cook until the skin is golden, about 5 minutes.  Turn the pieces over and cook for another 3 minutes.  Transfer the pieces to a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and continue until all the chicken is browned.

Discard the oil, set the pot over high heat, pour in the wine, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any bits that might have stuck to the bottom.  Let the wine bubble away until it cooks down to about 2 tablespoons.  Return the chicken to the pot, add any juices that have accumulated in the bowl, and spoon in the piperade.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat so that the piperade just simmers, cover the pot, and simmer gently for 40 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.  Taste for salt and pepper and adjust the seasonings as needed.

Serve over white rice, sprinkled with the basil and/or cilantro, if using.

Adapted from Around my French Table

My rating:


Lighter Spaghetti and Meatballs

We had our technology needs figured out in our motor home until our "hotspot" decided to die on us earlier this week.  Gerry actually attended a conference for a couple of days and then proceeded to hang out at various Starbucks with computer connectivity to get his work done.  I, on the other hand, decided to be a slug and just hang out reading books for most of the week.  I am in the process of re-reading my Mitford series of books.  I started reading them Sunday night and I'm just getting ready to start the fourth book in the series since I just can't seem to put them down.  I did manage to keep cooking during our computer down time, I just couldn't post anything.  The hotspot was replaced with a brand new one that was shipped out quite quickly and we are now back in business.

I love the feel of fall in the air which makes me crave slow, home-cooked foods which is why I made spaghetti and meatballs.  This recipe did manage to lighten it and make it healthier by using whole wheat spaghetti, ground turkey for the meatballs, and a fairly light tomato sauce.  I'm glad I didn't let the "lighter" label stop me from trying this recipe since it was really flavorful and filling.  This comes in at 390 calories per serving.

Lighter Spaghetti and Meatballs
Makes 8 servings (about 12 cups)

1 1/4 pound ground turkey breast
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup sliced scallions
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/4 cup minced fresh basil
3 tablespoons plain nonfat Greek-style yogurt
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons dry whole-grain bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 recipe Simple Spaghetti Sauce (recipe follows)
1 package whole-grain spaghetti

Combine turkey, onion, bell pepper, scallions, Parmesan, basil, yogurt, garlic, breadcrumbs, black pepper and salt in a large bowl.  Shape mixture into 24 balls.

Heat sauce in a large pot over medium until bubbly, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, coat a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet with nonstick spray.  Brown meatballs in two batches over medium-high heat.  Nestle meatballs in sauce in pot; simmer over medium heat, 30 minutes.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling water according to package directions; drain and serve with meatballs and sauce.

Simple Spaghetti Sauce
Makes 8 servings (about 5 cups)

1/2 cup grated onion (plus any juices)
1/2 cup grated carrot
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 can crushed tomatoes (28 ounces)
1 can no-salt-added tomato sauce (15 ounces)
1/4 cup minced fresh basil

Sweat onion and carrot in oil in a large pot over medim heat until softened, 3-5 minutes.
Add tomato paste, garlic, oregano, pepper flakes, and salt; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce; cook until bubbly, about 10 minutes.
Add basil right before serving.

Slightly adapted from Cuisine at Home, September/October 2012

My rating:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pancetta Green Beans

I thoroughly enjoyed my birthday today by simply doing the things that I love.  We moved to a new location yesterday in our motor home so we are in a wooded site by Lake Lewisville.  We have the benefit of a shady site and a view of the lake.  It is a very peaceful place to spend a few days.  I started my day with breakfast followed by 2 classes of Jazzercise (which is my absolute favorite work-out routine).  I stopped at my favorite grocery store for seafood and produce (Central Market) on my way back to our RV park and picked up sushi from the market for lunch.  I watched some Netflix after my shower and then spent a couple of hours outside reading on my Kindle. 

I decided it was the perfect day for a repeat performance of the Crab Cakes I had made back in July for dinner.  This is my absolute favorite crab recipe ever!!!  We had a side of Pancetta Green Beans to go with them which is another favorite recipe since I have made these twice in the past week.

Pancetta Green Beans
Makes 2 servings

1/2 pound green beans, trimmed
1 ounce pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and fill a bowl with ice cubes and cold water.  Toss the beans into the boiling water and cook just until crisp-tender, about 5 minutes.  Drain, transfer to the ice-water bath, and cool for 2 minutes, drain and pat dry.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the pancetta and saute until frizzled and crisp, about 2 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon , transfer the pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels and pat dry.  Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.

Return the skillet to medium heat and add the butter.  When the fat is hot, toss in the beans and cook, stirring, until heated through.  Season with salt and pepper and stir in the pancetta.  Remove from the heat and drizzle the beans with a little oil.

From Around my French Table

My rating:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tofu Broccoli Couscous Bowl

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a while and decided today was the perfect day for it.  Some tofu was cut into triangles after being drained and then quickly bathed in a sauce of soy sauce, maple syrup, mandarin orange juice, liquid smoke, black pepper and garlic powder.  The sauced tofu triangles were quickly sauteed in some grapeseed oil and finally some raw cashews along with a little more maple syrup were added and allowed to cook and become glazed. 

This yummy mixture was served over couscous along with some stir-fried broccoli.  This was really a nice change for serving couscous and tofu.

Tofu Broccoli Couscous Bowl
Makes 4 servings

1 pound firm or silken tofu, sliced into thick triangles
1 1/2 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce (or tamari)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or agave)
2 tablespoons mandarin orange juice and a pinch of zest
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
finely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups broccoli florets
2 teaspoons grapeseed oil
1/4 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (optional for cheezy flavor)

2 cups dried whole wheat couscous
1 cup water
1 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 cup raw cashews

Garnish:  mandarin or clementine orange slices

First prepare the couscous.  Add the liquid, oil and salt to a large soup pot.  Bring to a boil.  Add in the couscous.  Cover with lids.  Let boil for about a minute - then turn off the heat.  Let stand (with the lid on) for at least 5 minutes.  Remove lid, fluff with fork and set aside.  Fold in optional golden raisins as well.

For the tofu, drain and press dry with a thick handful of paper towels.  Slice into triangles.  Soak in a bat of all the ingredients - except the oil.  To a skillet, add the oil.  Turn to high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the marinating tofu triangles.  They should sizzle loudly upon adding to pan.  Add in the remaining liquid from the soaking bowl.  Allow to cook on each side for about a minute - you want blackened edges.

Just as the tofu is finishing cooking, add in the cashews and another teaspoon maple or agave syrup.  Allow them to get sticky and coated in the pan liquid.  This should only take about a minute.  Removethe tofu and cashews from the skillet and set on side plate.

With the pan still hot, add in the broccoli.  Char the edges a bit, then add in the remaining cover with a lid.  Allow to steam for about 2 minutes.  Remove lid and turn off heat.  Transfer the broccoli to a separate bowl.

Make your bowls.  Add some couscous.  Then tofu and cashews over top.  A few broccoli florets around the edges and some mandarin slices as garnish and for color. 

Slightly adapted from The Family Kitchen blog

My rating:


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tri-Tip Roast with Barbecue Sauce

I decided to take some pictures of our motor home while Gerry was out playing golf this morning.  I also thought I might try an update every week on our adventures in our motor home. We have now been setting up housekeeping and living in it for 2 weeks.  Here is a picture of the kind of house we are now living in.

I will share pictures of our indoor space in the next few days with my posts.  Overall, I am loving just having this little space to care for and yet having all of the conveniences of home.  I am adjusting quite well to the more limited space for food preparation and am finding that I will not have to compromise my cooking style to suit the space.  

 Now on to tonight's dinner...I have been wanting to try a tri-tip for a while and since they were on sale this week, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try it.  We also just bought a new portable grill for the motor home the other day so it was also a great test for Gerry with his new grill.  Gerry has always been a fan of Weber grills and so the new portable gas grill we bought is the Weber Q200 which is very portable and has a separate folding cart which can all be stowed in one of our outside storage bins.  This is the second time he has used the grill and so far he is very pleased with it (based on tonight's dinner, so am I).

I also made a German potato salad as our side dish which had grilled red onions and grilled potatoes as the main ingredients in it and I will post that recipe in the next couple of days.

Tri-Tip Roast with Tomato Red Barbecue Sauce
Makes 6 servings

1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons molasses
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/4 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon liquid hickory smoke

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

1 tri-tip roast, about 2 pounds and 1 1/2 inches thick
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

To make the sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine the sauce ingredients with 2 tablespoons of water.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 1 minute, stirring occasionally.  Set aside half of the sauce for dipping.

To make the rub:
In a small bowl, thoroughly mix the rub ingredients with your fingertips.

Allow the roast to stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.  Lightly coat the meat with the oil and season with the rub, pressing the spices into the meat.  Grill over direct Medium heat until well marked on both sides, about 10 minutes, turning once.  Move the roast over indirect medium heat and cook to the desired doneness, 20 to 30 minutes more for medium-rare, brushing the meat with the remaining half of the saue on both sides and turning it over every 5 minutes or so.  Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.  Cut the meat across the grain into very thin slices.  Serve warm with the dipping sauce.

From Weber's Real Grilling Cookbook

Our rating:

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mediterranean Mahi-Mahi with Frilly Herb Salad

Since we had not had fish in a while it was absolutely what I was craving tonight.  I decided on this Mediterranean style which had the fish marinade for an hour in a mixture of lemon zest and juice, sliced onion, capers, caper juice, olive oil, sea salt, pimenton and sugar.  The fish was then sauteed in a little more olive oil and garnished with a little minced fresh rosemary before serving.  Finally it was topped with an herb salad which really highlighted all the flavors. 

Our side dish was Pancetta Green Beans which was the perfect complement to the entree.

Mediterranean Mahi-Mahi with Frilly Herb Salad
Makes 2 Servings

For the fish:

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon capers
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 1/2 tablespoon for sauteing
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Pinch of Pimenton (Spanish smoked paprika)
Scant pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
2 mahi-mahi fillets, about 6 ounces each (or swordfish steaks)

For the herb salad:

2 cups herb salad mix
1 tablespoon fresh oregano and thyme leaves combined
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper

To marinate the fish:  Whisk together all the ingredients except the rosemary and the fish in a nonreactive glass casserole, or put them in a large zip-lock plastic bag and shake them around.  Put the fish in the casserole or bag and turn it so that it's well coated with the marinade.  Cover with plastic wrap or seal the bag and marinate the fish, turning it a couple of times, for 1 hour at room temperature.  (The fish can marinate for up to 4 hours in the refrigerator; bring to room temperature before proceeding.)

To make the salad:  Toss all the herbs together in a bowl.  Hold off on dressing the salad.

To cook the fish:  Remove the fish from the marinade and scrape any ingredients that have stuck to the fish back into the marinade; reserve the marinade.  Using paper towels, lightly pat the fish dry.

In a large skillet (nonstick is good), warm 1/2 tablespoon olive oil over high heat.  When it's hot, slip in the fish.  Cook for 3 minutes, then carefully turn the fish over and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on the other side.  You want the fish to be opaque in the center.  Transfer the fish to a platter and cover loosely.

Heat the reserved marinade in a microwave oven or in a small saucepan over medium heat until it's hot but not boiling.  Drizzle it over the swordfish and sprinkle with the teaspoon of minced rosemary.

Toss the herb salad with the lemon juice and olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and top each piece of fish with a little mound of salad.

Slightly adapted from Around my French Table

Our rating:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Sage-Crusted Pork Tenderloin

Fall is the perfect time to experiment with different pork recipes and I knew this one would be fantastic since the tenderloin was simply coated with Dijon mustard before being rolled in fresh breadcrumbs seasoned with rubbed sage.  The breaded pork tenderloin was browned in a little oil in my cast iron skillet before going into the oven to finish cooking for 20 minutes.  Once done and rested for 5 minutes it was sliced into medallions and served with an apple-thyme compote. 

Our side dish was Mashed Root Vegetables which was a combination of russet potato, parsnip, and sweet potato cooked together until done.  They were then mashed with buttermilk, freshly ground pepper to taste and garnished with fresh chives.

This was a perfect combination of tastes and flavors for a fall dinner.

Sage-Crusted Pork Tenderloin with Apple-Thyme Compote
Makes 2 servings

3/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon minced fresh sage (or 2 teaspoons dried rubbed sage)
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed, halved crosswise, seasoned with salt and black papper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup sliced shallots (about 2)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 cup sweet-tart apple (such as SweeTango or Pink Lady), cored, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves)
1/4 cup brandy or dry white wine
1/4 cup apple juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For the tenderloin, combine bread crumbs and sage on a small baking sheet.  Brush tenderloin with Dijon and roll in crumbs to coat.  Transfer tenderloin to a rack; let stand 15 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add pork; saute until crumbs are brown and crisp, 5 minutes.  Flip pork, transfer skillet to the oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer registers 150-155, 15-20 minutes.  Remove tenderloin from oven and let rest 5 minutes; slice into medallions.

 For the sauce, saute shallots in one tablespoon butter and 1 teaspoon oil in another nonstick skillet over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add apple and thyme, saute 3 minutes.  Deglaze skillet with brandy or wine; simmer until liquid nearly evaporates.  Stir in juice concentrate and broth.  Bring mixture to a boil.

Blend one teaspoon butter and flour together in a bowl, whisk into boiling sauce, and simmer until thick; season with salt and pepper.

Adapted from Cuisine Tonight for Two

My rating:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Butternut Squash and Poblano Gratin

With the cooler weather here in Texas, I really wanted a nice, hearty casserole for today's Meatless Monday dinner.  I found this recipe that I had bookmarked quite a while ago and decided it was the perfect fit for tonight.  It consisted of roasted poblano peppers, roasted butternut squash, caramelized onions with garlic, oregano, milk, sour cream and finally layered with 2 different kinds of cheeses before spending some time baking in the oven. 

I knew from reading the recipe that it would be warm and cheesy and comforting and it was all of that. 

Butternut Squash and Poblano Gratin
Makes 4 servings

2 large or 3 medium poblano peppers (about 3/4 pound total)
1 (2 pound) butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, and sliced 1/2" thick
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3/4 teaspoon chopped thyme, divided
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup light sour cream
3 ounces Monterrey Jack cheese, shredded
3 ounces farmer cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds (pepitas), toasted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Roast the poblano peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turning, until they are charred all over.  Transfer the chilies to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a clean dishtowel until they are cool enough to handle.  Peel the skins off, then stem and seed the chilies and cut into thin strips.

Toss the butternut squash with one tablespoon of the oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme.  Roast in the oven until tender, about 25 minutes, turning the sheet pan once midway through.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining one tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the onions, garlic, oregano, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon thyme.  Saute for 5 minutes then add the poblano peppers and cook until they are very tender, about 5 more minutes.  Add the milk and simmer until thickened.

Remove the pan from the heat, and add the sour cream.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon half the poblano mixture into a baking dish and top with half the roasted squash.  Sprinkle on half of the cheese.  Repeat the layers.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until gratin is golden and bubbly.  Let rest for 10 minutes and top with toaststed pepitas before serving.

Barely adapted from

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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Italian Sausage Ragu with Penne Pasta

The temperatures in the DFW area dropped by 25 degrees in 24 hours.  Yesterday was in the 80's so we were in shorts and t-shirts and today was in the low 50's all day finding us in jeans and sweatshirts.  I was craving a hearty and spicy pasta dish and this one fit the bill perfectly.  A ragu made with Italian sausage (I used a combination of both hot and mild) sauteed with some peppers, onion, garlic, and tomato paste was the base.  Some white wine was used to deglaze the pan and then a can of tomatoes went in with some crushed red pepper to cook down and create a sauce.  I tossed the al dente cooked penne in with the sauce to cook for the last few minutes and dinner was done.  This was the perfect cool night for such a spicy, soothing bowl of pasta.

Italian Sausage Ragu with Penne Pasta
Makes 2 servings

1/4 pound dry penne
1/2 pound bulk Italian sausage (remove casings if you can't find bulk sausage meat)
3/4 cup diced yellow bell pepper
1/2 cup diced onion
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes in juice (14.5 oz.)
Red Pepper flakes to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Bring a pot of water to a boil for penne.  Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Brown sausage in a saute pan over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, breaking sausage into small pieces.  Add bell pepper and onion; cook 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Deglaze pan with wine, then increase heat to high and cook until liquid is nearly evaporated.  Add tomatoes with their juice along with pepper flakes.  Simmer sauce until it starts to thicken.  Add parsley and cooked pasta for the last few minutes of cooking.

Garnish ragu with grated Parmesan.

Adapted from Cuisine for Two

Our rating:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fish Almondine

I thought fish sounded wonderful for dinner tonight since it has been a while since we have had it.  One of the recipes in my new cookbook was for Fish Almondine which turned out great.  I started by combining slivered almonds and butter in an 8-inch square glass pan and microwaving them until the almonds turned golden brown.  The fish fillets were then placed in the baking dish, turning to coat both sides.  I sprinkled them with parsley, salt, grated lemon peel, freshly ground black pepper, freshly chopped dill and covered with the browned almonds.

I served the fish fillets with a side of steamed broccoli and a salad which made it a scrumptious meal.

Fish Almondine
Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup butter
1 pound thin fish fillets
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped

In 8-inch square baking dish, place almonds and butter.  Microwave at high 4 to 5 minutes until almonds are golden brown.  Remove almonds and set aside.  Place fish in baking dish, turning to coat both sides.  Sprinkle with parsley, salt, lemon zest, black pepper, dill and almonds. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake, uncovered, 14 to 18 minutes.

Adapted from GE's Microwave Convection Oven Cookbook

My rating:

Gerry's Rating:

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Curried Chicken and Rice

I spent today dealing with clutter of things that did not have a home in our RV and rearranged a number of different areas, so I am feeling much better about our space.  I still have to master our washer/dryer combination but that will be on Thursday's schedule since I am busy tomorrow with working out, my monthly hair appointment and going to Sur la Table to purchase a couple new compact kitchen items. 

In an effort to master my microwave/convection oven, I turned to a recipe from the cookbook that came with the unit.  I purposely chose this recipe since it used both the microwave component and the convection bake component.  It turned out to be quite good, which I find interesting since it used canned cream of chicken soup which I am not a fan of.  This was an excellent opportunity to understand how my combination unit worked and we got to have a pretty good dinner to boot.

Curried Chicken and Rice
Makes 6 Servings

2 tablespoons butter
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 (10 3/4 oz.) cans cream of chicken soup
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 cups cooked rice

In 3-quart casserole, place butter, chicken and onion.  Microwave at high 7 to 8 minutes until chicken is no longer pink, stirring every 2 minutes.  Add chicken soup, parsley, curry powder, salt, paprika, pepper and rice. 

If using a combination unit, place metal accessory rack on rack supports.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake 25 to 30 minutes.

Adapted from GE's Microwave Convection Oven Cookbook

My rating:


Monday, October 1, 2012

Polenta with Eggplant, Onion and Tomatoes

This is our first Meatless Monday dinner in our new home which is why there has not been a post in a while.  We moved from our home of 17 years into a 40 foot R.V. (recreational vehicle).  As soon as we get a chance I will post a picture of our home on wheels.  When we decided to make this move, we knew we had to sell and/or donate a lot of our belongings.  It was quite interesting to sell all of our bedroom sets (4 bedrooms) with all the dressers and desks and various other pieces of furniture and sold many of our possessions in a huge garage sale.  We did keep our dining room furniture (along with both sets of china and crystal) and several other items so that if we ever decided to set up a house again, we would have something to start with.  We have a lot of things that I couldn't part with in storage and only the things we think are necessary in our R.V.

It is amazing when you go from a 3,400 square foot house to approximately 400 feet in a motor home what becomes essential.  We are at an R.V. park about 10 minutes away from our storage unit and we have been lugging boxes back and forth between storage and RV.  Quite a few items have not made the cut and have simply gone back into storage.  We are planning on staying put for about another week to see if we really have everything we think we need.  We love our new hot spot for internet connection which will allow me to continue with my blog posts.

This is the second night I have cooked dinner in the RV and I have been quite pleased with the set up.  I have a 3 burner gas cook top (I'm really glad it's gas) and a combination convection/microwave unit.  I do not have a conventional oven, which I'm not thrilled about.  I will give the combo unit a chance for at least 3 months before I decide if it will be enough for me.  The problem with installing an oven is the loss of 2 pretty big drawers of storage space. 

All right, enough about the personal space and on to the food. 

Polenta with Eggplant, Onion and Tomatoes
Makes 4 Servings

10 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, (about 1 3/4 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
3 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 1/2 cups water
1 1/3 cups coarse or medium cornmeal
6 tablespoons Parmesan, grated

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat.  Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the oion starts to brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove.  Heat 6 tablespoons of the oil in the same pan over moderately high heat.  Add the eggplant and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 10 minutes.  Add the onion mixture, fresh and canned tomatoes, parsley and  teaspoon of the salt.  Simmer until thick, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the pepper.

Meanwhile in a medium saucepan, bring the water and the remaining 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt to a boil.  Add the cornmeal in a slow stream, whisking constantly.  Whisk in the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the polenta is thick, about 20 minutes.  Stir in the Parmesan.  Serve the hot polenta topped with the vegetables.  Garnish with extra Parmesan, if desired.

From Food and Wine Italian Cookbook

My rating:

Gerry's Rating: