Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Broccoli Salad

I love broccoli. I love it fresh, steamed, stir-fried, sauteed, any way but mushy. I'm so glad that it is available all year round because it's maybe my favorite vegetable! At least one of my favorites anyway. I love it in Broccoli Salad along with the bacon, the onion and oranges! It's a little different for some, but I really love the contrast of flavors that it provides. In the summer when I can't get good fresh mandarins, I normally used canned Mandarin oranges and they work really well. This time, I used fresh Tangerines that I had. I also prefer to use dried cranberries instead of raisins, as I love their tangy flavor in this salad. I frequently make this for holiday dinners, especially Easter, which is coming up quickly. So if you're needing a salad for your Easter table, this could be the one for you! Let's make this!
Broccoli Salad
1 large head of broccoli, cut into florets and stems cut, if desired
6-8 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp and then crumbled
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dices red onion
1 can of mandarin oranges, or fresh mandarins( I used 1 1/2 tangerines this time)
1/2 cup of nuts,walnuts, slivered almonds, sunflower kernels, etc ( I used almonds and sunflower kernels)
1 cup Mayo
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
Cook the bacon until crisp and then crumble into pieces. In a large bowl, put the broccoli florets and stem pieces if using. Add the dried cranberries, onion, drained Mandarin oranges, nuts and bacon.
In a bowl, mix together the mayonnaise,red wine vinegar and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Pour dressing over the broccoli salad, toss gently so that you don't tear up the oranges, cover and chill 1 hour before serving. Garnish with extra bacon pieces, if desired. I hope you'll enjoy the mix of flavors in this salad. You've got the crunchy broccoli and nuts, with the tangy oranges and cranberries, the salty bacon and the bite of the onions, complimented with the sweet and tangy dressing! I love it! Are you a broccoli lover?

Monday, March 30, 2009

Strawberry and Pomegranate Smoothie

I hope everyone is doing well after these winter storms have gone through. We had lots of snow on Saturday, but it stayed warm enough that the snow melted as it fell. But I know many of you probably still have the white stuff! How much did you get? I hope this was the last winter weather for this season! Now, for a recipe. I love a good smoothie. Not only do these Strawberry and Pomegranate Smoothies taste good but it just makes me feel better knowing that I drank something that is so healthy! The folks at POM WONDERFUL contacted me to see if I would want to try their juice. Since I love Pomegranates, I was happy to try it. Pomegranates are full of antioxidants that are good for our bodies, plus they just taste so good! I love to break open the fruit and pull out those delicious juice filled seeds. I use them in fruit salads, but now we can use the juice for cooking other dishes.POM WONDERFUL is 100% pomegranate juice, no fillers at all,and it comes from California, not imported. You can find a lot of recipes and other info at http://www.pomwonderful.com/ . And, no, I'm not being paid to say this. Now, back to this yummy smoothie. I sent my daughter off to college with one this morning. She has a habit of not eating breakfast unless I put something in her hand. It was hard getting a good picture as it is so dark and gloomy outside which makes it that way inside as well. This is a very tasty smoothie, but next time I make it I'll use a bit more Pom juice. It's very easy to make, so grab your blender and get ready!

Strawberry and Pomegranate Smoothie
In a blender add:
2 ounces Pomegranate juice
1 cup of strawberries
1 6 ounce container of strawberry yogurt, that has been frozen(if desired)
1 cup milk (I used 2%)
hand full of crushed ice
Blend well, pour in glasses and enjoy!
I think that the next time we make this I'll try blueberry. It sould be really good too.
Do you ever use pomegranates in your cooking?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Revisiting Chicken and Corn Soup with Rivels

I've been very absent from blogging for a few days, as I've been ill and just not up to cooking.
Thankfully, I had a few meals in the freezer for my family. I haven't been too hungry, but I did make this Chicken and Corn Soup with Rivels this week. It is my favorite chicken soup and it was one of my first posts when I started this blog. However, this picture is much better than the one on my other post! I am learning a few things here! If you are snowed in and some chicken soup sounds really good, just drop what you're doing and go make this soup. You'll be glad you did! Meanwhile, I'm ready to start cooking again. I'm starting to get an appetite after reading all of your wonderful blogs this past week!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Braised Chicken with Garlic and Thyme

I have made this simple and tasty oven braised chicken for years, using whatever vegetables and herbs that I have on hand. Normally, I add carrots, but I had used them up in some stew I made. The vegetable bin was empty, except for lots of salad stuff. But I did have these wonderful Gold Petite potatoes and onions. I love these little potatoes as they have a creamy texture and buttery flavor that was perfect with this dish. I had a 3 1/2 pound whole chicken that I cut up, using just the legs, thighs and breast. I put the wings and rib pieces in a freezer bag and tossed in the freezer to use later for making stock. This is a very economical meal! In a small bowl, mix some olive oil, pressed garlic, and Thyme, or other herbs of choice. In a roasting pan

add some chicken broth and then drizzle in about half of the oil mixture. Lay the chicken pieces down next. Lay some potatoes and a cut up onion around the chicken. It is better if you cut these little potatoes in half so they can soak up some of the flavor better. I forgot to do that! Spoon the rest of the garlic mixture over the chicken and pop in the oven. I had the oven on at 425 degrees, but you can bake it at a lower temperature if needed. This took only 40 minutes.

I had intended to leave the leg quarters in tact, but I got knife happy and cut them in two. But that way all the pieces were done at the same time. Normally, the breast gets done first and I will remove it from the oven before the dark meat. Notice how tasty this looks! Golden chicken, buttery roasted potatoes with melt in your mouth onions, all drenched in garlic, lemon and Thyme! I served this with a nice crisp salad and some bread. Total comfort food in a very easy meal!

You may of course, purchase the chicken already cut up. But, I prefer to cut up my own. I have always done that. Let's make this easy meal!
In a small bowl, add about 3 Tbs. olive oil, 3 or more large cloves of minced or pressed garlic, and 2-3 tsp. dried Thyme (or other herbs) and mix. Let set for several hours, if desired, or use immediately. Add the juice of 1 lemon to the oil mixture.
In a roasting pan, pour in about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and drizzle about half of the garlic mixture in the pan. Lay the chicken pieces into the broth and then spoon the remaining garlic and oil over the chicken. Sprinkle with kosher salt and pepper and pop in a preheated 425 degree oven. Bake until the juices of the chicken run clear when pierced with a fork. Mine was done in 40 minutes.
The cooking time depends on several things. I used a 11x15 inch roasting pan and the chicken and potatoes were spread out a little. If it is crowded in the pan, it will take longer to bake. Also, you may bake this at a lower temp, if you have another dish in the oven with the chicken. This will also take longer to get done. About halfway through baking, check the pan juices and add more broth if the pan is getting dry. The chicken had a nice mellow garlic flavor with a hint of lemon. The next time, I will use a little more garlic. I sprinkled on a little more thyme after baking. This is a very easy, budget friendly, satisfying meal that you can change up by using other herbs, such as rosemary, or whatever you favorite is. Enjoy! What are your favorite herbs to use with chicken? Let me know in the comments.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Vegetable Frittata

When I found this recipe for Spring Vegetable Frittata, I knew I had to try it soon, and not add it to my ever increasing " to try" list! I knew also, that a certain picky son would not even try it, but that my husband would, and hopefully my daughter. I love the textures and flavors of this wonderful dish! You have the creamy, buttery Yukon gold potatoes with the fresh spring asparagus, the eggs, herbs and of course, cheese. It's perfect for any meal of the day. I forgot
to take pictures of the diced potatoes cooking, but you brown them first in the oil, then you saute the asparagus, onions and garlic until tender. Add in the eggs, cheeses, herbs and cook on top of the stove for a few minutes before sticking the pan in the oven to finish.

It's supposed to go under the broiler, but I didn't. You're supposed to use a non stick pan, but I didn't. It did stick a little, but I ran a knife around the inside of the skillet, cut it into wedges and removed each piece with a pie server onto a plate. It tastes amazing, so you must make this! I made it for a late breakfast, but it would be great for any meal. And it reheated just fine for leftovers. I personally love leftovers! It' like getting a free meal that you don't have to cook!

Spring Vegetable Frittata
8 large eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tsp. fresh chives, snipped
kosher salt and black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 medium Yukon Gold potato; about 1/2 pound, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch dice(1-1/2c.)
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-3/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese, parsley, chives, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper and the Cayenne.
Heat 2 Tbs. oil in a 10 inch, ovenproof, nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the diced potatoes and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
add 1 Tbs.more of oil and saute the onion, and asparagus for a couple of minutes, then add the garlic and stir until asparagus is crisp tender. Add the potatoes back to the pan along with 1/4tsp. salt and 1/8 tsp.more of pepper. Lower the heat if needed and add the egg mixture to the skillet and stir until combined. Add the cheddar cheese and stir. Cook without stirring for about 10 minutes until the eggs are almost set. the center will still be wet, but bubbly. Position the oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler and heat the broiler to high. Put the skillet under the broiler for about 1-3 minute, until eggs are set and top of frittata is golden. Remove from the oven and let set for 5 minutes and then transfer to a plate to cut into wedges. Enjoy!
This recipe is slightly adapted from Fine Cooking. I gave the cooking times that they recommended, since I didn't use the correct pan. My frittata cooked quicker than what theirs did, apparently. I will definitely make this again! Do you like frittatas?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Shredded Pork Sandwiches

The baked Pork Shoulder Roast that I cooked the other day for Carnitas was so good and I had so much meat that I froze some and still had enough left for a few sandwiches. The roast had been quite lean, plus the spices used made it also delicious as a barbecue sandwich. In fact, son number 2 prefers to make barbecue sandwiches with it. The meat was seasoned well so the sandwiches were very flavorful.

To make the sandwiches, heat the meat in a pan in the oven and remove it when warm enough. Turn the broiler on. On a baking sheet, lay out flat the buns you are going to use, and stick the pan under the broiler. Stay right by the oven and watch it closely as the bread browns quickly!

When slightly toasted take pan out of oven and slather some of your favorite barbecue sauce on the bottom half of bun. My husband wanted cheese on his, so I shredded some Monterrey Jack cheese and topped his sandwich with that. Back under the broiler it went for just a minute, until the cheese melts a little and then remove from the oven. You have a very delicious, satisfying sandwich that will make you happy the rest of the day! Well, that might be too powerful for a sandwich to accomplish, but they are mighty good. How do you use up a pork roast?

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Baked Pork Shoulder for Carnitas

My family loves, loves, loves Mexican or Tex-Mex food! I make it every week, even if it's only Taco Salad or Tacos. But this week I made Carnitas, which is a taco made with braised pork shoulder and they are so good! Pork shoulder roasts are usually very economical to buy and you get a lot of meat for your money, which is a major plus these days. I paid $1.49 pound for this 71/2 pound roast roast which will last several meals, or I can put half in the freezer, which I did.
To prepare the roast, first rinse well with water and pat dry with paper towels. Add your spices, lots of spices, then brown it some on top of the stove. Add some chopped onion, garlic cloves, peppers and some broth or water and stick in a slow oven for a few hours. You could also do this in the slow-cooker. When done you take couple of forks and shred the meat and I like to add

the onion and pepper mixture that I have fished out with a slotted spoon. At this point, you can freeze some of the meat if desired. You will need to add some of the pan juices to the meat to keep it from drying out in the freezer. To ready the meat for the tacos, place meat in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so, until the meat browns and then it is ready to devour! Place meat on heated corn tortillas and whatever toppings you desire! The flavors are amazing and the meat is tender!

Add a squeeze of lime, if desired, along with salsa, sour cream, avocado, cilantro or whatever you favorite toppings are. Carnitas are very addictive. This meat is very addictive, as it is also good served by itself. We also use leftovers for sandwiches. Note: you may use a smaller pork roast, just adjust the cooking time. A 3 pound roast will get done more quickly.
1 pork shoulder roast, any size (mine was 71/2 pounds)
4-6 cloves of garlic , I used 4 very large cloves
1large onion,diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, minced, or other peppers of choice
spices- chili pepper, cumin, garlic powder, kosher salt and pepper, or others you like
2 cups broth or water
Corn tortillas, softened
Rinse roast with water and dry well with paper towels. Liberally sprinkle roast with salt and pepper and other spices. In a dutch oven in 2 Tbs. oil, brown the roast on all sides over medium high heat. Watch carefully as the spices can burn easily, so do this quickly. (You can skip this if pressed for time.) Add the liquid to the pot along with the garlic, peppers and the onion. Cover and bake in a slow oven. I baked it at 300 degrees for about 41/2 hours. Meat is done when a fork can easily pull the meat apart. Remove from the oven and taking a fork in each hand, shred the meat. It should fall into bite sized pieces easily. Then, I like to take a slotted spoon and gather the bits of onion mixture from the broth and add it to the meat. I don't want to waste a bit of goodness here! You may freeze some of the meat for a later meal, as long as you add some of the pan juices to it ti keep the meat moist. To do the Carnitas, pace the shredded meat in a baking pan and place in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or so until meat is brown and slightly caramelized. Now you are ready to build your Carnitas!
Soften the corn tortillas by placing in the microwave until they puff a little. Or, you may cook them in a small amount of oil in a skillet over medium heat, flipping over when they begin to puff. You will need to drain them on paper towels, if frying. Place tortillas on plate and add all the yummy toppings you want! The meat is melt in your mouth goodness, and it only gets better when you add salsa, avocado, green onions and whatever else you like! The only problem with these is that you may want to eat a vast amount, as the flavors are so enticing and delicious! Do you make Carnitas and if so, what toppings do you like?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Low Fat Blueberry Muffins

I've had this Low fat Blueberry Muffin recipe tagged to try for along time, so I finally decided this was the time. I have a favorite blueberry muffin recipe, but I wanted to have a low fat version on hand also. With low fat yogurt and buttermilk, they sounded really good! And they are, but not as good as my tried and true recipe. But I decided to post this because I really liked the vanilla, lemony flavor and ,of course, they are lower in fat. The texture is different because there are no eggs or butter in this recipe. If you are looking for a low fat muffin recipe, this might be the one
for you! If you want to give them a try, here's the recipe, slightly adapted from Taste of Home.
Low-Fat Blueberry Muffins
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. baking powder
1tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp grated lemon peel
1 cup blueberries
1 cup vanilla nonfat yogurt
1 cup buttermilk
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and lemon peel. Gently stir in the blueberries. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and the buttermilk; stir into dry ingredients until moistened. Batter is thick and I got 14 muffins instead of 12 like the recipe said.
Spoon batter into liners in muffin pans. Bake in a preheated 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack. Have you ever ever been disappointed after trying a recipe that you really thought you'd love?
UPDATE! This morning, I have to say, the muffins taste better! They are still heavy, but the flavor is more pronounced and just better than last night.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Roasted Parsnips with Carrots and Red Skinned Potatoes

I hadn't eaten parsnips since I was a kid, until two days ago. I loved the way my Mother fixed them. She parboiled them, cut them in half lenght wise and then laid the parsnips in a hot skillet with butter and and fried those babies until tender and caramelized. They were wonderful! My Father called them "rat tails", I guess because they are fat at one end and real skinny at the other. My brother wouldn't touch them because of Dad's reference! I forgot to take a picture of them, but they are a root vegetable, similar to a carrot, only white, with a sweet, kind of spicy flavor. I had some the other day, so I decided to roast them in the oven with some carrots and small red skinned potatoes. My husband has always told me that he hated parsnips, so I didn't cook them. But he liked these! This isn't a recipe, per say, just a way to do some mixed vegetables in the oven .

These three vegetables roasted beautifully together. I peeled 3 parsnips, 3 large carrots and cut up 6 red skinned potatoes in a bowl. I sliced the carrots and parsnips about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick and poured about 2 Tbs. olive oil over all. I added kosher salt and pepper to taste and sprinkled all with some Thyme. After roasting in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes, my husband I enjoyed them with our lunch. This made about 3 servings, so adjust the amounts according to

what you need. The only thing I didn't like was the flavor of Thyme and parsnips together! I love Thyme on carrots and potatoes, but next time I'll use another herb, or just salt and pepper. Roasting really brings out a wonderful flavor in vegetables and has become my favorite way to cook many of them. However, grilling time is coming up and it's another great way to cook! Have you ever cooked parsnips?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Chocolate Chip Scones

"Mom, why are you taking so many pictures of the scones?" This was asked by my 21 year old daughter recently as she watched me arrange these scones for pictures. "Because I want them to look as wonderful in pictures as they taste," I replied. Most of my pictures were really boring looking, not at all enticing a reader to go out and make these delicious scones. I admire all of you talented food bloggers who take such luscious looking photos of meals you have made. I have a ways to go! But back to these amazing scones. I have not had traditional scones before, so I wouldn't be able to compare these Chocolate Chip Scones with them. These are crisp on the outside and tender and slightly sweet inside with with bursts of chocolate and a slight tang oflemon, if you use the lemon, that is. My family prefers the scones without the lemon peel, and frankly they are just as good without it. I love this recipe because if you want to, you can prepare these the night before, and bake them the next morning! How convenient is that! The dough can
be rather sticky, so sometime I refrigerate it after mixing to make it easier to handle and to cut into wedges. I like neat looking wedges after all! After mixing the dough, you pull and pat it together into a ball and lay it on a floured surface. Pat it into an 8 inch circle and then cut into 8 wedges. The recipe said 6 wedges, but I thought that was too much. You could make them smaller, if desired. Taking a pie server, transfer them to a baking sheet and place in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes. Or, you may cover unbaked scones with plastic wrap and stick the pan in the fridge until morning. Just be sure to preheat the oven well. You'll be greeted with a treat! How about hot scones for breakfast with coffee or tea, or in the middle of the afternoon for a pick-me-up. This recipe that I've been making for a couple of years now is slightly adapted from Epicurious. Let's make them!

Chocolate Chip Scones
2 cups all purpose flour, unbleached is called for
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp.baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. cold, unsalted butter
1 tsp, packed, grated lemon peel (I usually don't use this)
3/4 cup of semisweet chocolate chips-recipe calls for mini chips; I prefer the regular size
3/4 cup chilled buttermilk
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. sugar for topping- I use turbinado sugar( Sugar in the Raw)

Grease and flour a baking sheet. In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add lemon peel, if using, and cold butter, cut up. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour until you have a fine crumbly texture. Mix in chocolate chips. In a small bowl, mix cold butter milk with egg yolk and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients and gently mix until dough comes together in moist clumps. You can cover and refrigerate for a while, if desired. I often do, so that the dough won't be so sticky. If not refrigerating, gather dough into a ball and put on a floured surface. Pat dough into a 8 inch circle and cut into 8 pieces. With a pie server, transfer each piece to the prepared baking sheet, placing each piece 1 inch apart. At this point, you can either bake the scones or cover pan with plastic wrap, refrigerate, and bake tomorrow. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly brush each scone with milk. Sprinkle each one with the turbinado sugar, (or you may use granulated sugar). Bake for about 20 minutes, or until scones are crusty on top and a tester inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm. They're wonderfully addictive! Do you like scones?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry

When my husband and I were first married, I loved to experiment with different styles of cooking and was always trying some new recipe or method of cooking that I had not tried before. Then, enter 3 children who did not appreciate my culinary attempts to enrich their lives with the many flavors of the foods we loved! While I was not a picky eater growing up, 2 of my 3 children were. And none of them would eat anything related remotely to stir-fried food! So, I would sneak it in occasionally for just my husband and I. This recipe was given to me by a long ago friend. It is healthy and not at all difficult to prepare. In fact, with some preparation, you could fix it after working all day, as it comes together fairly quick. You can cut up the veggies the night before and put them in baggies in the fridge, and that would have most of the work out of the way!
I used zucchini, carrots, red bell pepper, onion, celery,and broccoli, and also fresh garlic and ginger root. You could also use asparagus, mushrooms, cabbage, bok choy, whatever you have on hand. The most time consuming part is just cutting up the vegetables. After that, the cooking is pretty quick. Also, I use 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, that have been cut lenght wise into 3 pieces and then sliced fairly thin so they will cook fast. You don't have to have a wok to do this! This did just fine in my skillet. The secret is to cook each veggie by itself so that you can make sure it reaches the desired tender crisp stage. Also, put the rice on to cook right before you start the stir-fry. Cook it for about 15 minutes and then turn off the burner. It should be done about the same time! I used 1 &1/2 cups of white rice and 3 cups of liquid( half chicken broth and half water), 1/2 tsp.salt and a Tbs. oil. So let's begin, shall we? Make sure all vegetables are washed and dried before you begin. Slice meat and have all veggies chopped and ready to go. It is very important, because the dish will come together quickly.Chicken and Vegetable Stir-Fry
4 Tbs. oil, sesame or canola works too
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut in 3 strips and sliced fairly thin
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally
2 cups coarsely chopped broccoli or broccoli florets
1 cup celery, sliced diagonally
1 small zucchini, cut in thin slices 1medium onion, the ends cut off, and standing on flat end, thinly sliced
1/2 of a red bell pepper, sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch or so of fresh ginger root, peeled and minced
1 cup of chicken broth
1 Tbs. cornstarch
2 Tbs. low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. salt, I don't use the salt, it's plenty salty for me
Mix the chicken broth, soy sauce and cornstarch together in a small bowl.
Heat 1 Tbs. oil in skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add chicken and stir fry until pieces turn white. Remove to bowl or pan that you are keeping near the stove. Next, add the vegetable which will take the longest to cook, in this case, the carrots. Stir fry for about 3 minutes or until tender crisp. Remove carrots to the other pan. Make sure there is oil in the skillet, then add the celery and cook for2-3 minutes, stirring constantly; remove to the other pan. Add broccoli to skillet and stirring, cook for 2-3minutes. You get the picture! By cooking 1 veggie at a time you can make sure it's not overcooked. Continue with other veggies, adding more oil as needed. With the last veggie, add a little oil and the garlic and ginger root and stir fry, taking care not to burn them. When done, put the meat and all veggies back into the skillet and pour soy sauce mixture over all and stir until sauce is bubbly and thickens, about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat.

Put rice on plates or bowls and top with your wonderful stir fry! This doesn't take long at all and is so healthy and delicious! I love the crunch of the vegetables and the bite of the garlic and ginger. The only problem that I've had, is one time the pan burned on the bottom and I think it was liquid left from the chicken in the pan. So, I now wipe out the pan with a paper towel, if needed after cooking the meat. Otherwise it turns out great! Also you may use steak instead of chicken, if desired. So, go ahead and have stir fry some night soon. You'll be so glad you did!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Homemade Chicken and Noodles

Growing up, my Mother's chicken and noodles were one of my most favorite meals. It was not soup that she made, but a very filling meal of lots of noodles and lots of chicken. Her noodles were thinner than mine and I've never been able to duplicate her way of making them. Luckily, my husband likes larger, more substantial noodles, like his mother made, so that lets me off the hook! You mix flour, eggs, a little milk and salt in a bowl and mix until it all comes together.
Pat ingredients together and work the dough into a smooth ball and place on a large, floured bread board. Flatten into a disk and turn over to flour other side. Taking a rolling pin, begin to roll out the noodle dough. It will be stiff, but just keep at it to get the dough really thin. Add extra flour if need, to keep dough from sticking. Try to roll it 1/8 in.or less.

After you are finished rolling. just let it dry for an hour or two. My Mother actually let it dry much longer, and then after she cut the noodles, they dried some more! She also rolled the dough up, jelly roll fashion and then cut the noodles into thin little wheels. Of course, you had to also unroll all the wheels of dough! I loved them, but it was an all day affair! I use a pizza cutter

to cut noodles into hopefully uniform strips. The noodles will get larger when cooking, so keep that in mind when cutting. Mine were actually a bit larger than I enjoy, but my hubby liked them! I also cooked a chicken so I had homemade broth to use. In a large pot I stewed a 4 pound chicken in 10 cups of water for about 1 &1/2 hours. If you are short on time, you can use canned broth and buy a roasted chicken from the deli. Mmmmm, there's nothing like a bowl of this on a cold evening!
Homemade Chicken and Noodles
To make noodles, combine in a bowl, 2 cups of flour and 1/2 tsp. salt. Break 2 eggs in a dish and add 4 tablespoons of milk and beat well. Add to the flour mixture and stir well; dough will be very stiff, but it will come together. If needed, you can add more milk, 1 tsp. at a time. On a large floured surface, roll out the noodle dough very thinly, about 1/8 inch or less. Use more flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Now it can dry for 1 hour. Taking a pizza cutter or a knife, cut dough into desired lenghts. If possible, let noodles dry at least 1 more hour, or until chicken is done cooking.
In a large soup pot put one chicken (about 3 1/2-4 pounds) in 10 cups of water and bring to boil. Turn heat down and cover pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 hours, or so. Remove chicken to a platter to cool. This can be done 1 day ahead, if desired, then there is time to chill the broth and spoon off all of the fat that accumulates. But, if you are doing this in one day, you will need to carefully skim the fat off of the hot broth. If, using canned broth, skip the previous instructions. Into hot broth add 1/2 of a large onion, diced, 2 or 3 stalks if diced celery and 2 large carrots, sliced. I always add potatoes too, as did my Mother and Grandmother. They said it was the German way, so who am I to argue! Peel and cube 2 large potatoes and add to broth. Cook for about 10 minutes. You are now ready to add the noodles, a few at a time so that they don't stick together. I cook them about 20 minutes until tender. Add 1 teaspoon salt, or salt to taste. I am a low salt cook, so this may not be enough salt for you. You may also use 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, if desired. I also use pepper and sometimes Tarragon. At this time, add in about 3 cups of cooked chicken, but don't bring it to a boil as it will cause the chicken to fall apart and become stringy. If the chicken and noodles are too thick you may add in more broth or even water and adjust the seasonings.

This is one comforting meal and it has always been a hit in my family. All of my children love it and I consider that a miracle! It was difficult when my 3 kids were young to find something that they all loved to eat. But this is it! Do you make homemade noodles?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Whole Wheat Carrot- Banana Bread

Who doesn't love a good piece of Banana Bread? Do we need another recipe for Banana Bread? Probably not, but don't we enjoy trying something just a little bit different? I sure do, so that's why I decided to try this bread after sorting through a stack of "must try" recipes the other day. It has been cut out of some forgotten magazine, so I can't give a proper source for this yummy Whole Wheat Carrot- Banana Bread. I eagerly got all the ingredients out, turned on the oven, and then read the recipe again and discovered that I didn't have the proper sized pans! It called for 7&1/2in. x3&3/4in. pans, which was smaller than the regular bread loaf pans that I have. I toyed with just pouring all the dough into 1 pan, as it could work, maybe. But I had a recollection from my early married years of the first time I made my Mother-in-Laws homemade dinner rolls, and she assumed that I knew that it would take two pans for the whole recipe, but in fact, I didn't know that! I had dough oozing out of my pan and wrapping around the racks of the oven and creating quite a mess for me to clean up! So, I decided to play this safe, especially since I wanted to take pictures, and used 2 larger pans. The loaves are not as high as I would like, but at least they didn't flow over the sides of the pans, leaving me with a mess. An added bonus was that the loaves took less time to bake! So here's what you will need:
Whole Wheat Carrot-Banana Bread
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar ( the recipe calls for brown sugar, but I used 1/2 white and 1/2 brown)
2 eggs
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp.cinnamon
1 cup ripe, mashed bananas
1 cup finely shredded carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to350 degrees. Grease 2 7&1/2 in. loaf pans. In a large bowl beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs. In another bowl combine flours, soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add dry ingredients and mashed bananas alternately to butter mixture, stirring after each addition. Fold in shredded carrots and nuts. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 40-50 minutes. Cool in pans for about 15 minutes and then remove bread from pans to finish cooling on wire racks. Makes 2 loaves. In my larger pans, it took about 25 minutes to bake.
This bread is moist and yummy with a little different texture than the other recipe that I use. However, my husband doesn't like it as well as my old standby. He thinks it's a bit dry. It does have a more crumbly texture due to the whole wheat flour, but I do not find it dry. So, 1 bread, 2 opinions. I guess that if I make it again, I'll take it to a ladies brunch, or some other activity! Have you ever baked something and loved it only to have your husband or someone else not like it?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Baked Tilapia with Lime and Cilantro

When I was growing up, my family hardly ever had fish. When we did, it was usually fried or fish sticks from the store! So when I married, I didn't know how to fix fish unless it was fried. And I found fish rather intimidating, for some reason, so it's just been the last few years that I've added a few easy fish dishes to my recipe box. One such dish is Baked Tilapia with Lime and Cilantro. It's so easy and quick cooking that you can have a whole meal on the table in less than 30 minutes! The Tilapia only takes 10-15 minutes to bake, so if you pair it with rice and maybe a oven roasted veggie, like my Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar, or Oven Roasted Broccoli, dinner will be ready in no time! In fact the Tilapia and the asparagus or broccoli can baked in the oven at the same time, in separate pans. This recipe was for about 1 pound of Tilapia, which contained 5 small fillets. Preheat the oven for 425 degrees and get started!
Baked Tilapia with Lime and Cilantro
4 Tbs. fresh squeezed lime juice
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2-3 Tbs. olive oil
1 Tbs. melted butter, optional
2-3 Tbs. chopped cilantro, or to taste
sea salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
In a small bowl, mix the lime juice, the olive oil and the garlic together and let set for a few minutes, if you have the time. That will allow the different flavors in the sauce to "come together"! Place fish fillets in a 9x13 non reactive baking pan and pour the lime juice mixture over the fillets. Turn fish to distribute the juice evenly and make sure that some of the delicious garlic lands on the fish! Top with the chopped cilantro and pour melted butter over all. I just like the taste of butter and olive oil together, but this step is totally optional. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10- 15 minutes, until fish flakes easily. I actually let the fish set in lime mixture for about 10 minutes before bakingas I had another interruption, but the fish was fine. I did not want it to marinate because the fillets are so delicate and don't need to be tenderized. But it came out really delicious with the tangy lime and garlic flavor with the cilantro. This is a recipe that I normally use with grilled chicken breasts and I will marinate them for several hours and it's delicious too!

Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

I love oven roasted asparagus and usually just fix it with olive oil, salt, pepper, and sometimes a splash of lemon. I've tried slicing up some garlic and tossing it in, but didn't really get much flavor from it. As I was looking through Epicurious the other day for other asparagus recipes, I found one using Balsamic vinegar. Well, I love Balsamic vinegar, so decided to try it the next time I was craving asparagus. But I still wanted some garlic flavor, if possible. And I found a way! I thought of the garlic infused olive oil that I make sometimes for garlic bread and decided to try it, and it worked! In a small glass bowl, I poured about 2 Tbs. olive oil, and then using the garlic press, I pressed 2 cloves of garlic into the oil. I just let it sit a couple of hours before time to make dinner. The longer it sets, the better the garlic flavor! The first step is to wash the asparagus. Then, dry well so that it doesn't steam when baking.
At dinner time, I placed the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzled it with garlic oil and added kosher salt and coarse ground pepper. I looks so good, doesn't it? Stick the pan in a hot oven

and prepare to enjoy the aroma that will be enveloping your kitchen! Oh, it smells so good! Let it roast 10-15 minutes until tender, but be sure to take the asparagus out of the oven before the garlic gets too brown. What I had was luscious, tender asparagus that was slightly caramelized and infused with a wonderful hint of garlic! Then, I topped it off with Balsamic vinegar. Yum! It was a nice change to my favorite asparagus.
Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
1 pound of asparagus, with ends snapped, washed and dried
1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
2 Tbs. olive oil ( or more, according to your preference)
kosher salt
1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
Combine olive oil and garlic in a glass bowl and let set at room temperature for several hours, if possible.
Preheat oven to 425.
Place snapped asparagus on baking sheet.
Drizzle with the garlic infused olive oil
Add kosher salt and coarse ground pepper
Place pan in oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork and slightly caramelized
Remove from oven and transfer to serving dish and splash with 1 Tbs. Balsamic Vinegar
Enjoy! What is your favorite way to enjoy asparagus?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Meat Sauce for Pasta- Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

Well, I didn't get this posted this morning like I had hoped as I had interruptions. Does anyone else have interruptions that keep you from doing what you need or want to do? Of course, we all do. Life happens and we must go with the flow, either that or get ulcers! But here is my recipe for luscious Meat Sauce for Pasta. I use both lean ground beef and some Italian pork sausage which gives this meat sauce a wonderful, rich flavor that my family loves. I am definitely not Italian, nor do I claim that this sauce is either. It's just good meat sauce that I have made for many years that is robust with flavor and makes for very satisfying meals! So to start,

add 1 pound ground round and 1/2 pound Italian pork sausage to skillet on medium high heat and brown it, breaking it up with a spoon as it cooks. The sausage is harder to break into smaller pieces, but you can do it, just keep trying! Drain off fat if there is any. Season the meat with salt, pepper and garlic powder. You'll add this to the sauce in a moment. In a stock pot or soup pot,

add about 2 Tbs. of olive oil and heat on medium. When hot, add 1 diced onion and 1/2 green bell pepper, if desired. I don't always add the bell pepper. Cook until soft, 5 minutes or so, and then add 1-2 minced garlic cloves and some more olive oil, maybe 1 or 2 more Tbs. Stir for just a bit, don't let the garlic get too brown, just soft. Now add in 2 cans crushed tomatoes, 2 cans tomato paste and 4 cups of water. Stir well and then add the meat to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover pot with a lid and cook on low for at least 1 1/2 -2 hours. Cooking it a little longer will not hurt. Stir every so often, and break up any large pieces of meat you may find.

Don't add the spices until the sauce is almost done. Spices lose flavor if cooked too long. When sauce is almost done check to see if you like the consistency. If it's thicker than you like, add a little more water. If the sauce is too thin cook it down a little with the lid off. When ready I add 1 tsp. oregano, 1&1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. salt, pepper to taste and 1 Tbs. sugar. This time I also added 3 sprigs of thyme, which I have in the freezer. Can't wait to plant more herbs this spring! Now you're ready to make my Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce , pictured below, that I posted yesterday! You'll need 3-4 cups of sauce for this dish. Or use this sauce for any other pasta. This recipe makes about 8 cups of sauce, so I froze what was left.

I have based this recipe on one my Mother used. If you need a meatless sauce, just omit the meat part and start with browning the onions. This is what I do when making spaghetti and meatballs.

Meat Sauce for Pasta

1 pound lean ground beef, I use gr. round

1/2 pound Italian pork sausage

1 medium onion, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced, optional

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 Tbs. olive oil

2- 15oz. cans of crushed tomatoes, or diced is fine

2- 6oz. cans of tomato paste

about 4 cups water

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 &1/2 tsp. dried basil,

1/2 tsp. salt

pepper, to taste
1 Tbs. sugar, optional

1/2 tsp. thyme, optional

In a skillet brown the ground beef and sausage together, breaking up chunks with spoon.

Drain fat, if any. In a large pot, in 2 Tbs. olive oil, cook the diced onion and bell pepper until soft. Add in the minced garlic and another Tbs. or so of olive oil. Stir until garlic is softened and then add the 2 cans of tomatoes, 2 cans of tomato paste, all of the meat and 4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer,then turn to low heat and cover with lid. Cook for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, at least. This makes the meat tender and develops the sauce. Stir every so often and if necessary, add more water. When sauce is done add the oregano, basil, salt, pepper, and sugar and thyme, if using. Stir well and simmer maybe 15 minutes more. If sauce is too thick, add more water. If it's too thin, cook it down some without the lid. This is not an exact science here, I go by taste and by what the sauce looks like. If you think it needs more basil or salt, for instance, add it in. And if I have fresh herbs from my garden, I use them in place of the dried. So, go make pasta for dinner one night this week. Your kitchen will be filled with the most wonderful aroma, and your family will love you! If they like pasta, that is! Pasta is something my whole family enjoys. Even when the kids were young, picky eaters, they would eat pasta with meat sauce. Do you eat pasta very often?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

As I was getting ready to post this recipe this morning, I realized that I didn't even know the official name for these shells, I just always have called them "shells". So I looked up the info on google, and then got side tracked, and now I'm posting in the afternoon! I found out that these shells are called "Conchiglie Shells", which is Italian for Conch Shells, which makes sense, because they really do look like conch shells. On the pasta box they are called Jumbo Shells, so there is the reason I have always called them "Cheese Stuffed Shells"! I have been making these for many years and I think I adapted this recipe from one on a box of shells. Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce is one of my family's favorite dishes. If desired, you may use a meatless sauce, which in my opinion, is very good and contains less calories. But the carnivores in my family prefer the meat sauce. If you are really pressed for time you may use a jar of your favorite purchased sauce. I'm going to post the recipe for the meat sauce separately, tonight or tomorrow, so that it will be easier to refer to in other posts. So, let's get started;You will need 1/2 -1 box of Jumbo Shells. I don't fill the shells too full because as they bake and the cheese melts, it oozes out of the shell. I like the cheese to stay in the shells! So I cook about 28 shells for 1 9x 13 pan. Some of the shells always fall apart during cooking, so I cook more than needed. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add in however many shells you want to use. Stir with a wooden spoon so you don't tear the shells. Cook for the least amount of time listed on the box. When shells are done, pour into a colander and drain. When ready to stuff them rinse with cold water if needed, to separate the shells, so they won't tear.. In a bowl mix the cheese ingredients together; 15 oz. ricotta, 2 cup Mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 2-3 Tbs. chopped parsley and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
In a 9x13 non reactive pan, pour about 2 cups of meat sauce and spread it out. To fill the shells, take one in your hand and gently add about 1 Tbs. of cheese mixture. Lay it over the sauce and repeat with remainder of shells. I fit them rather closely together.

After all the shells are filled and in the pan, I drizzle 1 cup of sauce over the pasta. Then I top the dish with just a light sprinkling of Parmesan or Mozzarella, just to decorate it a little. Don't use much. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until bubbly and the cheese is melted.. If desired you can cover with foil for the first 15 minutes. Also, if you stuff the shells really full, they may take longer to bake. When done, remove pan from oven and enjoy!

Cheese Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add in the pasta and cook for the least amount of time listed on your box's directions. Pasta will cook more after it is stuffed. Drain cooked shells in a colander in the sink. Cool until you can handle.
In a bowl mix together;
15 ounces Ricotta cheese ( I use low fat)
2 cups Mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated melts better, or the one in the tub)
2-3 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley
1/4 tsp.pepper ( You won't need salt as the cheese is saltly)
In a non reactive 9x13 baking pan, pour in about 2 cups of meat sauce and spread evenly.
When ready to stuff the shells, take 1 shell and fill with about 1 tbs. of cheese filling.( If shells are hard to separate, rinse with cold water and loosen with fingers.) Place each shell into the pan over the meat sauce. When the pan is filled, spoon an additional 1 cup sauce over the pasta. Sprinkle a little cheese over the top just to decorate! Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted and sauce is just bubbling. I serve with salad and garlic bread. What's your favorite pasta shape?

UPDATE: The recipe for the Meat Sauce for Pasta (spaghetti sauce) is here.