Sunday, October 30, 2005

Another new recipe tonight plus a new challenge!

Tonight for company dinner I made another new recipe form this month's Cooking Light magazine. This is about as simple as it gets, and it was very good. Definitely a winner. It was a mustard and blackberry glazed ham, and it was very good. At first I wasn't sure if those two flavors would combine so nicely- but oh was that good ham. The crust was definitely the best part. And of course, since it was a ham, I have quite a bit leftover, and this week may become Iron Chef Ham. I'm not sure that I'll offically declare that challenge though, as it stands to be a busy musical week, and I may be going after a few old standbys. But we'll see. We have started the official 2 week countdown to the end of the show. Two weeks from this moment we will be completely done with Bye Bye Birdie, and life will resume some sense of normalcy.

And of course, this Friday is Thanksgiving Part 1- and we're really looking forward to that. So until tomorrow, here is the ham recipe I used tonight, courtesy of Cooking Light magazine- give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

Blackberry-Mustard Glazed Ham

This classic recipe will be well received at all of your holiday gatherings; try it with any flavor of fruit preserves you enjoy. Adorn the platter with fresh blackberries, apple slices, oregano, and flat-leaf parsley.

1 (5-pound) 33%-less-sodium smoked, fully-cooked, bone-in ham half
Cooking spray
1/2 cup apple juice
1 (13-ounce) jar blackberry preserves
1 (7.3-ounce) jar whole-grain Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 350°.
Trim fat and rind from ham. Score outside of ham in a diamond pattern. Place ham on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray.
Combine juice, preserves, and mustard in a medium bowl, stirring until well combined. Set aside half of preserves mixture.
Bake ham at 350° for 1 1/2 hours or until a thermometer registers 140°, basting with half of preserves mixture every 20 minutes. Remove ham from oven. Place ham on a platter; cover and let stand 15 minutes before slicing.
Place reserved preserves mixture in a large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cook until reduced to 1 cup (about 15 minutes). Serve sauce with ham.

Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 3 ounces ham and about 2 teaspoons sauce)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 185(27% from fat); FAT 5.6g (sat 1.6g,mono 2.3g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 18.3g; CHOLESTEROL 45mg; CALCIUM 15mg; SODIUM 1011mg; FIBER 1g; IRON 1.5mg; CARBOHYDRATE 14.8gJackie Mills

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Well, they smell good.

Today I am making brownies. To be specific, Chocolate Mint Brownies. This is one of those recipes that I would never really think to make it myself. I am not a huge mint fan with chocolate, but it does have its moments. This is one of those moments. I see these brownies frequently at picnics and potlucks. And I can never eat just one- they are so good. I finally tracked down the recipe, and they are baking as we speak. I know they will be great, so I have no need to wait until they are completed to post the recipe. I fully admit though, that the recipe threw me. It only calls for 1 cup of flour, and it also calls for 1 can of chocolate syrup. Interesting. I am expecting a nicely fudgy brownie. My only caveat is that by the time I include the filling and ganache topping, there will be 3 sticks of butter in this one brownie recipe. That is quite a bit. So when I am beating the filling, I intend to start with half of the butter there and see how that works. Same with the chocolate topping. I may just use half of that anyways. I will let you know if I end up making any changes. In the meantime I am going to wait for them to finish baking.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Chocolate Mint Brownies
Serving Size : 24

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter -- softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 can chocolate syrup
1 cup sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter -- softened
1 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon mint extract
3 drops green food coloring
10 ounces mint chocolate chips
9 tablespoons butter

Combine first 7 ingredients. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool completely. Combine filling, beat until creamy, spread over brownies. refridgerate 30 minutes. Melt chocolate chips and butter together, let cool for 30 minutes. Spread over filling, cut into squares.
Description: "Dessert"Yield: "1 piece"
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 319 Calories; 16g Fat (43.9% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 44g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 64mg Cholesterol; 182mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 0 Lean Meat; 3 Fat; 2 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

I am thinking that this recipe has possiblities for endless variations. I am thinking about subbing raspberry extract and pink food coloring in the filling, and using raspberry chocolate chips for the topping. You could also just choose to make the mint a pink color, make a pan of each, and alternate the colors for a really pretty brownie plate. Or perhaps adding orange extract to the filling, orange color, and using dark chocolate chips for the topping- along with some finely chopped toasted pecans. Or how about a coconut variation? Add coconut extract to the filling, and some toasted coconut flakes to the topping. Oh my, this has serious playing potential. I will share any variations I make. :-)

Friday, October 28, 2005

Back to normal

So I did cook today. After the last two days I needed to just spend some time with the kids. So we had a nice lazy day together. My brother and his family came over for a little while to play, and that was nice, the kids really love Kara and love spending time with her. All day I've almost felt hungover. Not really achey or sick feeling, but that feeling like you get after a busy vacation. I've felt tired all day, but by mid afternoon I was feeling like doing a little cooking. So I tried a new recipe from the new issue of Cooking Light. This was a good issue, there's lots I want to try, and this was the first. I made Oven Braised Lentils with Sausage. And it was super easy, and really quite good.

I did make a few changes (of course) trying to use a couple of things that needed using. I decided to add my leeks and fennel and when I went to get my tomato paste, I noticed that it was tomato paste with Italian herbs, so I had to use that. I also left out the white wine and just used chicken broth instead.

First off, the fennel. I have never had fennel before, and it surprised me. It really really smelled like anise, which I don't care much for. But it really didn't taste it. I can't exactly describe the flavor- but it was somewhat sweet. I am intrigued. I used half a bulb along with the veggies called for. I took the other half of the bulb, sliced it up and tossed it in the freezer, along with the upper stems and fronds. I intend to use them next time I make a stock- which will likely be turkey stock.

Back to the dish. I also had two small leeks that I trimmed and cleaned and sliced up. I added them to the oil first to give them a few minutes to soften before adding the rest of the vegetables to sweat. I followed the rest of the directions as planned, swapping out turkey kielbasa for regular kielbasa- my store was out. Oh, and I don't have a dutch oven that I can use on my stove, so I followed the instructions thru bringing to a boil, and then poured it into a baking dish, covered and popped it in the oven. Oh, and if you do make it, cut the sausage into bigger chunks. Mine were more like 1 1/2 inch, and they were starting to get a little soft in texture. I think if they were much smaller they would almost disappear.

It was perfect. It was such a homey and delicious dish. Almost exactly like a lentil and sausage soup, only no broth in the end product, and the lentils are individual and distinct. I am certain the fennel and the leeks helped contribute to such a wonderful dinner, and I will most likely include them next time. I am also thinking about what else I can do with fennel, because that unusual veggie has certainly caught my attention. :-) So here is the recipe, complements of Cooking Light. Bon Appetit!

Oven-Braised Lentils with Sausage
From Cooking Light

Comforting and easy to prepare, this hearty dish is good for busy nights, as the lentils cook in the oven and leave you free to tend to other things.

2 teaspoons olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 1/4 cups chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 thyme sprigs
2 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 (16-ounce) bag dried lentils
1 (14-ounce) package turkey kielbasa, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 bay leaf
Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic; sauté 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine, scraping pan to loosen browned bits; cook 1 minute. Add water and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Cover and place in oven. Bake at 375° for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until lentils are tender; discard bay leaf. Yield: 10 servings (serving size: about 1 1/4 cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 234(14% from fat); FAT 3.6g (sat 1.3g,mono 1.6g,poly 0.4g); PROTEIN 20g; CHOLESTEROL 10mg; CALCIUM 109mg; SODIUM 450mg; FIBER 15.4g; IRON 5.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33gLorrie Hulston Corvin

Cooking Light, NOVEMBER 2005

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Unexpected Roller Coaster


That's just about all I can say.


It has been a crazy two days. As a little background, every year Andy and I work on our local High School musical. It's kind of a hobby for us that we can do together- and we do it well. He does the technical aspects of the show, designs the set, designs lights, runs the show from backstage, etc. I am the fluff. I do costumes, props, and dress the set. Every year the school has a long weekend that we all take the opportunity to spend two days really polishing the technical aspects of the show. Well. Andy requested off of work for this Thursday and Friday. It was approved. Then this week his boss told him at the last second that he couldn't have the time off. Uh Oh. These two days TOTALLY hinge on Andy. Needless to say, the director was not happy.

Andy had to spend today at work, and we were lucky enough to be able to get ahold of a former student who was majoring in theater to come in and take over for the day. I did spend a little time at school helping with hair and make-up and checking out the fit of my costumes. I have to say- those kids looked pretty darn good! But with two sick kids at home I didn't stay long. I spent a nice lazy afternoon at home with the kids. Zander had a good nap, Abigail and I made cookies. Then everything changed...

Andy walked in early- Oh good, I'm thinking. We can bump up dinner and get him to school at a reasonable amount of time because he has a lot to do tonight. His first comment is "Time to break out the resumes". Um. Yuppers. He was let go. His boss picked him up at the job site and personally drove him home. He told Andy that it was obvious he wasn't happy with his job, so he was doing Andy a favor and letting him go. Doing him a favor???!!! He was totally full of it. So Andy and I made a lot of quick phone calls to people putting out the APB that Andy was looking for a job- pronto, and hooking up with our prayer families.

Well. One of the phone calls Andy made was to a guy he had been working with in the last few weeks- basically letting him know he was looking for work and would it be beneficial for Andy to drive out to this guys work and drop of a resume? Sure, come out anytime. Well, as it turns out, this guys DAD owns the company. He called back 20 mintues later- come fill out an application, you start the Monday after next. Yippee!!!! Andy has heard good things about this company, and he was only unemployed technically for about an hour. He will have next week off, which as it turns out, means he can put in even more time on the musical than originally planned. :-p

What a crazy day!!!!!!! I seriously feel like crawling into bed and staying there for a week. And now I'm hungry. It's been so stressful that I haven't felt much like eating, and now that I think we are maybe on a bit of an upswing, my stomach is voicing it's opinion.

Anyway, maybe tomorrow I will get to a new recipe that I've been meaning to try all week. I also have a bulb of fennel in the fridge that I bought clue. I've never used fennel, and just felt like buying it, along with a pair of leeks. So maybe some kind of roasted chicken? We'll see. I'm going to do a couple of searches and figure something out- maybe. :-)

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Prayers Please...

It's been a very tense couple of days at our house, and it only stands to get worse. Personally I have been struggling to finish my costume efforts to meet my self imposed deadline of Thursday. I actually am almost done. I have one dress to alter, and my nightmare dress only needs a hem. I tried it on the girl today, and she simply looks stunning in it. So yeah for me! Well, not really. It IS a costume, so I wasn't super careful with my lining and the stitching. But it sure looks good. I am amazed that I made an entire dress by hand. But the stress of the show is still there. I have to shop tomorrow for all of my men's clothes and now Zander is quite ill, and I feel awful having to make him run around tomorrow. But I really have no other choice.

I had a medical crisis today with Zander. Last night I was up with him most of the night as he was coughing a lot and struggling to breathe. I was playing round robin with the medicines in our cabinet. I started with one, and then two hours later it still wasn't working, so I would watch the clock until I could give him another dose- only I would try something different. Nothing worked. Finally, at 8:30 this morning I called and got him into the doctor's office. My poor boy has been diagnosed with asthma. It wasn't unexpected, I have asthma, but it was hard to actually hear it given voice. In just one day I have thought of so many things that will have to be considered with him in the future. With any luck, it will be something that he will grow out of. Of course, right now the asthma is having immediate consequences. He's always been one to hang on to a cough and a congested chest when he gets a cold- at least now we know why, but he's been struggling with this last cold and the asthma has trapped some bacteria in his tiny lungs, so he's being treated with antibiotics, along with his albuterol treatments. And right now, he wants Mommy. At all times. The only reason I am not in bed with him right now, is because Abigail is in my bed with him. That's another story.

Abigail is not herself this week. I wish I knew what was going on there. She has been extra cuddly, wanting Mommy and Daddy, and she's really struggling with bedtime. She spends a few minutes in bed before she starts crying that she wants Mommy. So her and Zander have been starting off the night in Mom and Dad's bed together. I wish I could get her to tell me what is bothering her. I think part of it is Halloween. She is such a sensitive girl, and they've been doing Halloween themed things at school, and I think it's bothering her. Today she told me she'd rather go to the mall than go trick-or-treating on Monday. So I think all the spooks and things have taken their toll. We will not be carving pumpkins I think, and no Halloween decorations of any kind. Right now I plan to take Abigail and Zander somewhere during trick-or-treating. I'm just not sure where. I want to avoid scary costumes if at all possible, and I think that will be very hard to do. Of course, I had to let her know that she could still be Sleeping Beauty all day on Monday. So we'll see about that. The option to trick-or-treat will still be there, but I've also offered to take her to the candy wall at Toys R Us to pick out a bag full of treats. We'll just have to wait and see what she decides on Monday I guess.

So it's been a wee bit stressful here. Andy is in the middle of a crisis at work, and he is getting the brunt of the "angry fuel" regarding the musical. I think we are both debating not doing it again next year. But between that and no sleep because of the kids, things are wound pretty tight here. So send some happy thought our way. And some happy eating thoughts! I'm hardly in the mood to cook, much less eat. Breakfast for me today was a handful of candy corn. Lunch was a handful of Twizzlers. Almost as an afterthought I whipped up a quick supper, and when I sat down to eat with the family, Zander wanted cuddle time, and Abigail had a bit of a breakdown. Ugh. Maybe I'll be back tomorrow with something a little more happy to talk about.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

How wierd is that??

Yesterday's post appeared magically just now. So I guess you get two posts at once! How exciting!

Brown Butter Pumpkin Pie with Cranberries and streusel

Well, that's a mouthful, say that three times.

Yesterday I posted a nice post about how I was almost finished with my sewing projects and was looking forward to playing in the kitchen today. Well, somehow blogger ate my post. It was rather poetic and exciting. (At least for me) So I'm sorry you won't get the benefit of yesterdays prose.

However, today was the perfect blustery day to try a little bit of creativity in the kitchen. I have a pumpkin pie recipe that we love. I found it two years ago in an issue of Bon Appetit and have pretty much adopted it as my pumpkin pie. You can look at it here for the original version. Well, somewhere in the last few days I got it into my head that I needed to play with it a bit and figure out the best way to put cranberries into my pie. How could that not be good. So this was a grand science experiment. I started with the pie filling.

I was going to add some tartness to the pie, so I wanted to up the sweetness in the actual filling just a tad, without increasing the sugar. My first thought was the butter. I had actually been thinking about cutting the butter in half and adding some evaporated milk instead. Then I thought about browning the butter and that won. So one stick of butter, browned, went into the filling, along with 1/4 tsp of cinnamon. Next stop, the streusel. I already have eliminated the crystallized ginger. I am not a big ginger fan, so I leave that out. Instead I add 1/8 tsp. of powdered ginger to the flour and sugar in the streusel. I looked at the nuts, and decided that I like pecans better with cranberries than walnuts, so I swapped those out and increased the nuts to 1/2 cup.

Then I thought of the cranberries. The last time I made a pie with cranberries, it was an apple pie with a cranberry ribbon. There were a lot of instructions that came down to basically making a simple cranberry sauce to layer in the pie. I decided that a can of whole berry cranberry sauce would fit the bill. Except that we used that can for dinner the other night, and I only had about 1/2 cup left- and I wanted more than that. Ah, that jar of lingonberry preserves should fit the bill. Again, about 1/2 cup there too. So I mixed the two together. Now, where to put the cranberry sauce.

After careful thought, I decided to try a layer in the middle of the pie. I poured about 1/3 of my filling into the crust. (Which, by the way, I did not follow the directions and prebake the crust. 45 minutes in the oven is plenty of time to bake.) Then I dollopped cranberries all over the filling- staying away from the edge. I poured the remaining filling over, topped with streusel, and baked it. The flavors turned out quite well. I'm not quite done with it, but it is good. I think I still need to cut the butter in half, and I think I should use all lingonberries, as they are a smaller, more delicate berry than a cranberry. The only problem I have with the pie, is the length of time to bake. I checked it at 45 minutes, and since it didn't jiggle when shaken, I called it done and pulled it out. It probably could have used another 10 minutes or so, as the very center is quite soft.

But here is the recipe as I made it tonight. It is very rich- and very good, but like I said, I plan to tweak it a tiny bit more, and of course, if you feel anyhting in particular would be beneficial...just let me know!

* Exported from MasterCook *
Pumpkin Pie with Spiced Walnut Streusel
Serving Size : 10

1 Butter Crust Pie Dough disk
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 tablespoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter -- chilled and cut into cubes
1/2 cup pecans -- chopped
1 can pumpkin -- 15 oz. (pure pumpkin)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter -- melted and browned
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup cranberry sauce -- whole berry

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to a 9-inch deep-dish glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang under; crimp edges decoratively. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until edges begin to brown and crust is set, about 17 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake until golden brown, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to rack, maintain oven temperature.
FOR STREUSEL: Mix flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until coarse meal forms. Stir in nuts.
FOR PUMPKIN FILLING: Whisk pumpkin, sugar, and brown sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust, layering cranberry sauce in as desired.
Sprinkle streusel over the filling. Bake pie until streusel is golden and filling is set, about 45 minutes. Cool on rack at least 2 hours. Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
Description: "Pie"Source: "Bon Appetit Nov. 2003" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 360 Calories; 17g Fat (40.5% calories from fat); 3g Protein; 52g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 87mg Cholesterol; 33mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 3 Fat; 3 Other Carbohydrates.
NOTES : Very very good. Has a texture similar to sweet potato pie. Maybe would like a little clove and cinnamon in the filling next time. Also would be good with a 1/8 tsp. rum extract with the vanilla. Definitely make again.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

I behaved myself today

Oh was that kitchen calling. More specifically, the oven. After yesterday's frolicking in the kitchen, I really wanted to do more. It was such a dreary and drizzly day, the oven just sang to me. "Bake something." "Bake something gooey!" "Bake something that is warm and comforting." And guess what. As hard as it was, I controlled that urge and continued with my sewing. I am almost finished! :-) I have one dress remaining to actually make, and then I am done with the actual sewing projects for the show! Yippee! I still have a lot of shopping to do, but other than minor alterations, it's almost time to put the sewing machine away. For a little while anyways. After this success, I am feeling a little adventurous, and I may attempt to make Abigail her Christmas dress this year, but we'll see about that.

Tomorrow our Company is bringing dinner, but I am thinking about trying a new pie. This one will be a bit of a leap for me. I am going to take a pumpkin pie and try to weave a ribbon of cranberry into it. I'm not sure how well that will work, with pumpkin being a slightly custardy pie, but I love pumpkin, and I love cranberries, it just seems to me that I would like that combo. If that doesn't work, I am thinking about attempting a pumpkin cheesecake that I can top with a spiced cranberry sauce. But we'll start with the pie. I need to get it perfected, because in two weeks I will be hosting the first of two Thanksgiving dinners. Our dear friend Dan will be home on leave for one week before deploying for Iraq. So we are going to give him and his family an early Thanksgiving dinenr together as a family. It will also be our way to send him off in the best way possible- with a belly full of love. :-) So until tomorrow, have a great night. And here is the pumpkin pie recipe that I plan to use as my base for the pumpkin cranberry concoction.


1 Butter Pie Crust Dough disk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon minced crystallized ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Pumpkin filling
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown suga
r3 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Sweetened whipped cream

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch deep-dish glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1/2 inch. Fold overhang under; crimp edges decoratively. Refrigerate 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until edges begin to brown and crust is set, about 17 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Bake until golden brown, pressing with back of fork if crust bubbles, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer to rack. Maintain oven temperature.
For streusel: Mix flour, sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg in medium bowl. Add butter; rub in with fingertips until coarse meal forms. Stir in nuts.
For pumpkin filling: Whisk pumpkin, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup brown sugar in medium bowl. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla. Pour into prepared crust.
Sprinkle streusel over filling. Bake pie until streusel is golden and filling is set, about 45 minutes. Cool on rack at least 2 hours. (Can be made 6 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.) Serve with sweetened whipped cream.
Makes 10 servings.
Bon AppétitNovember 2003

Friday, October 21, 2005

Happy Birthday Andy!

Today was Andy's birthday so I had to do a little something special for him for dinner. We don't do a whole lot for each other's birthdays, but we do make each other a yummy dinner. Tonight Andy requested red meat. Then he narrowed that down to steak. It was a steak kind of day. So we called up Mom and Dad to see if they wanted to join us for a brithday dinner. I picked up a beef tenderloin which I cut into small steaks and seasoned them so that Andy could simply grill them. To accompany that I made a simple tossed salad. Earlier in the day though, I was a wizard in the kitchen. I started the morning by baking up a chocolate fudge cake mix in a pair of loaf pans. And set that aside to cool. While that cooled I mixed together cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and Cool Whip. Tossed in some crushed oreos and split one loaf cake into three layers. I smeared on two layers of oreo creme and topped the whole thing with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. I had to make a cake because Abigail insisted that a birthday must include cake. Who can argue with that.

Next I whipped up a batch of whole wheat sandwich bread, only I shaped it into three smaller free form loaves. This turned out perfect of course, and I was able to send a loaf home with Mom and Dad. Finally, I made a Warm Buttermilk Apple Pie. I think Andy's favorite food is pie, and this one ranks in the highest marks in Andy's world. I will share the recipe below. It is a Cooking Light recipe, and the only chnage I make to the whole thing is that I add about 1/2 cup of finely chopped pecans to the streusel. That really adds to the pie, IMO. My last adventure in the kitchen today was a new recipe for Gorgonzola Artichoke Cream Pasta Sauce. How could you go wrong with gorgonzola in the first place, and even better to accompany a steak! It turned out quite well. I left out the nutmeg, but Andy thought it would have gone quite well. This is a definite repeat, and makes a great side dish. Highly recommended by Andy,as was the rest of dinner actually. I did not do the step of topping with crumbs and baking. I simply tossed the sauce with some penne and called it done.

Here are the recipes for the pie and the pasta sauce.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Gorgonzola Artichoke Cream Pasta Sauce:

Recipe By :shared by tomboy on CLBB
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter -- cut up
4 ounces Gorgonzola cheese -- room temperature
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 can artichoke hearts -- (14 ounce) well drained and chopped (I used a box of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and cut into smaller pieces.)

In a large saucepan, heat chicken broth, cream, and butter to boiling over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Whisk in Gorgonzola cheese until melted and sauce is smooth. Stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Stir in chopped artichokes and cook until heated through. Serve sauce over pasta (some type of shelled pasta works best to capture the sauce).
Walnut and Bread Topping (optional, but recommended):
Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a small bowl, toss together 1/4 cup soft (fresh) breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon snipped fresh parsley, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Spread in an 8x8x2-inch baking pan. Bake, uncovered, in a preheated oven for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden. Sprinkle of pasta and sauce.

Warm Apple-Buttermilk Custard Pie

From Cooking Light
The key to both a flaky piecrust and crisp streusel topping is to keep them as cold as possible before putting them into the oven.

1/2 (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie dough (such as Pillsbury)
Cooking spray
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 1/2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
5 cups sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 pounds)
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups fat-free buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325º.
To prepare crust, roll dough into a 14-inch circle; fit into a 9-inch deepdish pie plate coated with cookig spray. Fold edges under; flute. Place pie plate in refrigerator until ready to use.
To prepare streusel, lightly spoon 1/3 cup flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine 1/3 cup flour, brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Place streusel in refrigerator.
To prepare the filling, heat a large nonstrick skillet coated with cookig spray over medium heat. Add sliced apple, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cook 10 minutes or until the apple is tender, sitrring mixture occasionally. Spoon the apple mixture into prepared crust.
Combine remaining 3/4 cup granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, salt, and eggs, stirring with a whisk. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla. Pour over apple mixture. Bake at 325º for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300º (do not remove pie from oven); sprinkle streusel over pie. Bake at 300º for 40 minutes or until set. Let stand 1 hour before serving. Yield: 10 servings

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 317(29% from fat); FAT 10.1g (sat 4.6g,mono 3g,poly 1.2g); PROTEIN 5g; CHOLESTEROL 76mg; CALCIUM 73mg; SODIUM 230mg; FIBER 1.3g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 52.6g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2003

The Tea Review

I have discovered loose tea.

I found it, of all places, at the shop where Andy gets his beer brewing supplies. They have a small selection of about 15-20 loose teas. I went with Andy the last time he needed something, and got myself a little sampler. The tea is super cheap (I think) at between $.95 and $2.49 an ounce. I thought I should try a few different teas.

The first one I was drawn to was called Sunshine Lemon Rooibos. I already knew that I liked rooibos. Although, technically it is not tea, as it is not even a leaf, more like tiny little sticks, it makes a wonderful cup of herbal tea. And the Sunshine Lemon is just wonderful. It is so fragrant and yummy. It is my instant favorite. Rooibos is such a delicate flavor, it is truly ahrd to describe, but it is almost like it has hints of cinnamon and sweetness, and a light "red" flavor. The lemon is a perfect complement to the rooibos, and I plan to buy plenty of this tea to have at all time. I also think this would make a fabulous iced tea as well.

I also brought home a Green Tea Chai. I am on the fence about this one. I like green tea, and I love chai, but this one seems out of balance. It may be that I steeped it too long, but the spice flavor is overwhelming,and the tea flavor is underwhelming. The flavors I get the most are cardamom and clove, which have their places, but are not my favorite. So I'm not sure what I will do with this one. I don't love it, but I don't hate it. I know I wouldn't buy it again, but in the meantime I have almost 3 ounces of loose tea- which is quite a bit.

The third tea I got is called Russian Caravan. There is no fence here. The tea is described as an a basic black tea with a hint of Lapsong Suchong tossed in. Um, it smelled good in the jar. The Lapsong is a smoked tea, and while you can faintly smell it, it wasn't overwhelming, and I thought it sounded good. I only steeped this one for 3 minutes, because I didn't want to be overwhelmed. The first sip of tea was like, oh, wierd, maybe it's an acquired taste. So I sat down determined to give it it's full trial. I did try it unsweetened, and then added a little honey as well. About 4 or 5 sips later, I just couldn't stomach it. The lapsong doesn't come out right away, it's more like a lingering finish. And I definitely do not like the taste of smoke lingering on my tongue. I would breathe and I could smell my breath. It was like I had eaten smoked fish or something. This was soooo not for me. I don't mind my ribs and chicken to be a little smoked- but I don't care to drink it. So I have nearly 2 ounces of this sitting around here as well. If anyone is interested, I would be happy to send it to you for nothing. It cost me little, but I feel like it's being wasteful if I just toss it. I will keep it around for a little while, and if no one is interested, I will toss it, but just in case someone likes this yucky brew...

Now to the basics of brewing tea. At least, this is my procedure. First I boil some water and fill my ceramic teapot with hot water and my cups with hot water to warm them. The I set the kettle of water back on and gently heat it to between 170 and 190. I've been using my probe and letting it get to 185 before I take it off the heat. Then I dump the hot water out of my tea pot. I add my loose tea leaves to the pot. My proportions are 1 teaspoon for each cup of tea, plus one for the pot. Add the hot water to the pot and let it steep for between 3-5 minutes. If you let it go much longer than 5 minutes, the tea can become bitter. Using a tiny mesh strainer, I strain the tea as I pour it into the warmed tea cups. Ideally, if I were to make more than one or two cups of tea, I think I will be getting a carafe specifically for tea. As the tea doesn't stay warm for very long in the ceramic tea pot, and leaving it sit and steep is a bad idea.

While I won't be giving up my Stash tea bags anytime soon, I am enjoying the experience of loose tea, and I will be sure an dshare my experiences as Andy tends to need more brewing supplies form time to time.

I will be back later today, as it is Andy's birthday and I have a few special things planned for in the kitchen. So tune back in later. :-)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

So I did cook today.

But I REALLY hate sewing.

There, got it out of my system (I think). I really am in the home stretch, so hopefully soon I will be back in the kitchen doing what I love.

Anyway, tonight I made a recipe that I got from Bon Appetit magazine. Or Gourmet. I'm not sure, my Mastercook entry says Bon Appetit, but I suspect it is in fact from Gourmet, because it reminds me of a Gourmet every day recipe. Either way, it can be found at of you are interested in other reviews. This is the second time I made this one. I rememeber the first time thinking that I could taste and feel the fat too much to truly enjoy the dish. So this time I cut back a bit. Just a bit. :-) I also added about a cup of sliced mushrooms when I added the beans, as well as about 1/2 cup of chopped fennel fronds. The fennel added some freshness, the mushrooms added some earthiness, and it was really good. My only beef with the recipe as written is that the proportions are way off. You end up with 6 chicken thighs in a huge pot of stew. I am going to try something different with the leftovers though. I am letting it cool, and then I am going to skim the fat off the top. Then I am going to take the remaining thighs and take the chicken off, add it back to the pot along with 2 cups of chicken stock, and a handful or two of frozen spinach. Soup for lunch on Saturday. All it will need is a sprinkle of Asiago and some french bread for dunking.

Here is the recipe, it really is easy and needs very little tending while it cooks. While the stew cooks, there is plenty of time to warm up some bread and toss a salad.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Serving Size : 6

4 bacon slices -- chopped
6 chicken thighs -- with skin and bones
All purpose flour
1 large onion -- chopped (about 2 cups)
5 garlic cloves -- minced
2 cans stewed tomatoes -- (14 1/2 ounce)
1 can low-salt chicken broth -- (14 1/2 ounce)
3/4 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 cans cannelini beans -- (15 ounce) drained

Cook chopped bacon in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until crisp. Using slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper towel. Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Dredge chicken in flour, shaking off excess. Add to drippings in pot and sauté until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Using slotted spoon, transfer chicken to large bowl. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons drippings from pot. Add chopped onion and minced garlic to pot; sauté 4 minutes. Add bacon, stewed tomatoes, chicken broth, red wine, basil and oregano. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to pot. Cover and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Add cannellini; simmer 10 minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Source: "Bon Appétit December 1999" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 371 Calories; 17g Fat (43.1% calories from fat); 27g Protein; 25g Carbohydrate; 7g Dietary Fiber; 83mg Cholesterol; 193mg Sodium. Exchanges: 1 Grain(Starch); 3 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Fat.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Random Thoughts Today

Sorry, no excitement in the kitchen today or yesterday, and most likely not tomorrow either. I am on a roll with my sewing projects and in order to maintaint my pace, I must keep myself focused. It's hard, that's for sure, but I am up against a deadline, and I am determined to do better than meet it.

This year's musical Bye Bye Birdie was hand-picked by Andy and I because we knew it was a win/win show for all. The kids will enjoy playing it, the community will enjoy seeing it, and we'll enjoy working on it. In theory. Andy's set was not built according to direction, so he has spent all his spare time the last 3 weeks at school rebuilding his set. My painting instructions were not followed very well, so the interior of the MacAfee house looks more like a big top than a living and dining room. And the costumes...yikes. I am having fun shopping and am learning a ton sewing, but yikes. I have one dress that is like a recurring nightmare that won't go away. I am getting grief from staff at the school that I need to make sure I keep track of my spending this year. Um, yeah, hello? I was given a tiny, tiny budget. In a normal year, we can spend about $3500 costuming our entire cast for the musical. I was asked if there were things I could do to trim that amount a bit. Sure, we can rent way less, I can make some, and I am sure I can purchase much of the clothing from vintage clothing stores. Good theory. But not for $500. Yep. That's my costume budget. As it stands now, I have about $200.00 left, and 16 men to find pants for some and suits for others. It will be a busy weekend to be sure. So we'll see. I've also been hearing that there is some concern over how much time I am "not" spending at school. Yeah, I'm not happy about that line of concern. Let's just say it is a good thing for the school that I am not getting paid by the hour.

Anyway, enough venting.

Abigail went on another field trip this week- this time to a Pumpkin Patch. I had some conerns about this one. It was a long bus ride for one- and I was concerned about her digestive pyrotechnics going off. But she did manage just fine with the bus ride. I was also worried about the actual pumpkin patch. The planned activities included a hayride, picking a pumpkin, corn mazes, and a haunted house. I had a nice talk with Abigail about the haunted house, and that it was really important that she stays with her teacher and not go in that one. Last week on a field trip to the fire station, they showed a horrific movie about a little girl starting a fire in her bedroom with a candle- and it getting out of control. According to another Mom who went, they didn't even find out if the girl was okay until the end of the film. Abigail was so upset about it, I had to spend two nights sleeping with her on the airbed. I just can't imagine thinking that a haunted house is okay for kindergarteners. She was so proud of herself after that field trip. She told me that she stayed out of the haunted house, and she LOVED the hayride, so it was a good field trip.

Andy was out of town again last night, so he called to talk to Abigail like he usually does. Well, last night Zander wanted to talk too. It was such a sweet thing to hear him say "luv you Dad-dee". He is such a sweetheart. Every time he watches Barney, he looks for Mommy when the show is over so we can sing the "I Love You" song together. And lately he's also wanted to do "Pocket Rosie" a lot. Of course, he loves the part where we all fall down, and we have to do it quite a few times before he tires of it. As I type this he is watching Jack's Big Music Show on Noggin, and Laurie Berkner is singing and he is dancing like madman. And trying to sing along. He has been areal trooper this week while I sew and shop. And he is only to willing for a little snuggle break when I feel like one. :-)

Well, he is ready for a bit of a nap I think, so I should sign off for today. I just needed a bit of a break from the 1950's for a while. I hope everyone is having a great week!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Chicken with artichokes

Tonight's turn in the kitchen took me to a recipe posted on The Savory Notebook. Alysha made this a week or two back, and it intrigued me. She said it needed tweaking, so I felt the need to tweak. I think I'm happy with the results. I think there are a few things I would still tweak a little more- but overall, the finished product was a good dish served up with some egg noodles. Andy liked it, and since that always is a plus, it will go into my recipe file. I liked that it was quick, and it is fairly versatile. Of course, it called for those wonderful frozen artichoke hearts- and I am SO impressed with those alone. So here is the original recipe with Alysha's notes. I will add my notes and changes as well.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Chicken with Artichoke Hearts
Serving Size : 4 Preparation Time :0:20

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless -- skinless chicken thighs, cut into 2-inch chunks Coarse salt and ground pepper
4 garlic cloves -- minced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 cups water
1 red bell pepper -- ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch strips -- (I added about 1/4 cup of chopped kalamata olives)
1 package frozen artichoke hearts -- (10 ounces) thawed and halved
4 ounces feta cheese -- crumbled

1. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper; add to skillet, and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes.
2. Reduce heat to medium; add garlic, oregano, and crushed red pepper to skillet. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add vinegar; cook, scraping up browned bits from bottom of skillet with a wooden spoon, until liquid has evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
3. Add 2 cups water to skillet, and simmer over medium heat 10 minutes. Add bell pepper and artichoke hearts; simmer until chicken is tender and liquid has thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in feta cheese, season with salt and pepper as desired, and serve.
Per serving: 377 calories; 19.8 grams fat; 39.8 grams protein; 9.6 grams carbohydrates; 4.6 grams fiber
Martha's Note: Since they are not packed in oil as many jarred artichoke hearts are, frozen ones taste the closest to fresh.
Source: "Martha Stewart's Everyday Food"Start to Finish Time: "0:40" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 148 Calories; 13g Fat (76.8% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 4g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 25mg Cholesterol; 319mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 2 Fat.
NOTES : Because the chicken in this Mediterranean-style dish is braised, thighs are best. Dark meat stays moister than white; it becomes even more tender when cooked in liquid.

Now for my changes.
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 2 inch pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2 inch strips
1/2 of a sweet onion, cut into thin slices
8 kalamata olives, chopped (okay, 8 was all I had, I would have liked a little more)
1 package frozen artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half
4 ounces feta cheese
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup low fat sour cream

I basically followed the directions, adding the onions and olives in with the peppers. Except that once the liquid had cooked down, I added the splash of lemon juice and sour cream. I think I would like yogurt better- but I used what I had. I added the feta cheese after those had combined with the sauce and serve dit right away. And if you notice, I used chicken stock instead of water. I think that next time I would also add 1/2 teaspoon of Greek Seasoning with the oregano. I don't personally care for the flavor of just using oregano, but I like it fine in a blend. I didn't have a problem with using chicken breasts instead of thighs. I'm sure the thighs would have a slightly better flavor, but I was using things up in the freezer- hence the breasts. I did use a little less of cook time in the first step- basically cooking them until they were no longer pink instead of the full 10 minutes.

I'm not sure what I will work on tomorrow. I really need to devote some time to my sewing this week, as I have costumes to finish. Aargh. So maybe there will be something new, maybe not. And because I need to get my mind out of the kitchen, and into the sewing room, I will be staying away from a challenge this week. Hopefully next week I will be back on track to challenge myself next week. :-)

Sorry for the slacking!!

It seems I sort of took the weekend off. I didn't actually mean to, so sorry baout that. I've been a little busy.

Well, last night for our weekly Company Dinner we went with a Chinese theme. Chinese food is not my forte', but I do make a good egg roll, so that's where we started. I told Company I was making egg rolls, and my friend Elizabeth said she had a great recipe for pot stickers. Oh yes, I could live on pot stickers. So that was good. My problem was the entree' portion of dinner. I will admit to the world, that I am terrible at stir frying. I always overcook everything and my sauces are pasty. I'm sure part of the problem is my lack of proper equipment, but even so, I should be able to at least muddle something up. So the CL BB to the rescue for me. I made CL's Three Pepper Beef, and it was very good, and quite easy. Since one of our guests doesn't care for peppers, I made a half a recipe of the pepper beef, and then subbed a blend of mushrooms for the other half of the recipe. I also added some Oyster Sauce to the finished mushroom product. And I have to admit, they turned out pretty good.

I will also admit that my egg roll is not my creation. I use CL's Baked Egg Roll recipe- but I still deep fry them. Baked egg roll wrappers are really not good, but their filling is, so I use that, escept that I add a little more black pepper than called for. I will post both recipes below here for anyone interested.

And finally, to top of the meal, Elizabeth made a fine contribution to my rice challenge for the week. She brought a Sticky Coconut Rice with Mangoes. This was very good. I had her bring the recipe along- and I will share that a little later when I have more time. But the creamy coconutty rice and the mangoes and all topped with a drizzle of coconut milk and toasted coconut. Yum. I have bit in the fridge, and I am thinking it won't last very long. But in the meantime, here are the CL recipes I used last night.

Three-Pepper Beef
This stir-fry gets its color and crunch from a variety of bell peppers. Serve over rice.

2 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1 teaspoon sugar,
divided1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound flank steak, trimmed and thinly sliced across the grain
1/4 cup low-salt beef broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed
1 1/4 cups cubed red bell pepper
1 1/4 cups cubed yellow bell pepper
1 1/4 cups cubed green bell pepper

Combine 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, salt, and flank steak in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Set aside.
Combine 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon sugar, broth, soy sauce, and black pepper, stirring with a whisk until sugar dissolves; set aside.
Heat oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green onions, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry 10 seconds. Add beef mixture; stir-fry 3 minutes or until done. Remove the beef mixture from pan; cover and keep warm. Add peas and bell peppers to pan; stir-fry 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add beef and broth mixture to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thickened, stirring constantly. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: about 1 3/4 cups)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 326(36% from fat); FAT 13g (sat 5.2g,mono 5g,poly 1.3g); PROTEIN 34.1g; CHOLESTEROL 76mg; CALCIUM 50mg; SODIUM 832mg; FIBER 4.4g; IRON 4.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 17.6g
Martin Yan
Cooking Light, JULY 2004

Baked Egg Rolls

"My mother got this recipe from her grandmother, and I've modified it to include turkey. When dipped in traditional Vietnamese sauce and served with rice noodles on the side, these make an easy, low-fat, and delicious main meal." -CL Reader
Egg rolls:
2/3 cup coarsely chopped celery
2/3 cup coarsely chopped carrot
2 cups shredded cabbage
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
2/3 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 pound ground turkey breast
1 1/2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
14 egg roll wrappers
1 large egg white
Cooking spray

3/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
6 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine celery and carrot in food processor, and pulse 10 times or until finely chopped.
Combine celery mixture and cabbage in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap; vent. Microwave at high 5 minutes; drain.
Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Add turkey; cook 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in cabbage mixture, 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, and pepper. Cover and chill 15 minutes.
Place 1 egg roll wrapper at a time onto work surface with 1 corner pointing toward you (wrapper should look like a diamond). Trim 1 inch off right and left corners of wrapper. Spoon 3 tablespoons turkey filling into center of wrapper. Fold lower corner of egg roll wrapper over filling. Fold in trimmed corners. Moisten top corner of wrapper with egg white; roll up jelly-roll fashion. Repeat procedure with remaining wrappers, turkey filling, and egg white.
Lightly coat egg rolls with cooking spray, and place, seam side down, on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until golden brown.
To prepare sauce, combine 3/4 cup soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and 1 tablespoon ginger; serve with egg rolls. Garnish with green onions, if desired. Yield: 14 servings (serving size: 1 roll and about 1 tablespoon sauce)

NUTRITION PER SERVINGCALORIES 79(29% from fat); FAT 2.5g (sat 0.4g,mono 0.9g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 5.7g; CHOLESTEROL 11mg; CALCIUM 18mg; SODIUM 532mg; FIBER 0.7g; IRON 0.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 8g

Cooking Light, MARCH 2001

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Chocolate fun!

Last night was very fun. Of course, how can chocolate ever NOT be fun. ;-) While I don't always find Pampered Chef parties fun, this one was. Part of that, I'm sure, can be contributed to the consultant who was very laid back and low-pressure. I also had people come that I didn't actually expect to come, and some neighbors, both old and new. So it was a good time. I got to know a few people better that I didn't know very well before, so that is always a bonus.

On to the chocolate. I didn't do anything overly complicated, but since it was a chocolate party, I felt I needed to have a good representation of chocolate here. I started with fudge. This was a super simple fudge that I added a few things- and by far was my favorite item of the evening. It was basic Eagle Brand fudge, only I mixed in some orange zest, craisins, and pecans, and oh yum. Next I made a batch of brownies. My favorite brownie currently is the one on a can of Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa. I would post the recipe- but since you need that specific cocoa to make the brownies- just go buy yourself a can. The recipe is on there. :-) Finally I made chocolate mousse cups. I made a simpel mousse with whipped cream, dark chocolate, and cinnamon. Next I took some frozen phyllo cups and brushed white chocolate on the top edge and a dollop on the bottom. I piped in the mousse, sprinkled on some edible glitter and had mousse cups. They turned out pretty darn good too.

Rounding out the evening for me, I made a centerpiece of chocolate chips. I used a bowl of dark, white, and swirl chocolate chips in three seperate bowls, surrounded by chocolate candy corn. It was nice and simple. I also made a simple punch using 7-Up, Pineapple juice, and orange sherbet. That was quite yummy and I will do again. And for those who cared to, of course, you cannot have chocolate without a glass of wine- right?

The PC rep made a skillet fudge cake which was okay, and a cold chocolate fondue. That was silly in my opinion, but then I have become a bit of a food snob as of late. She took chocolate chips and melted them, then stirred them into some Cool Whip and added a sprinkle of cinnamon. It certainly wasn't fondue. It was a dip, but it was more mousse-like than anything, and I think they would be better to call it chocolate mousse dip than fondue. Of course, I've been staying away from Cool Whip anyway- all that high fructose corn syrup...yucky. Give me real whipped cream anyday. The fudge cake was a devils food cake mix baked in a skillet. She took some caramel sundae topping and mixed in some chocolate chips and melted them together. Voila, topping for cake. And of course, decorated with Cool Whip squeezed out of a decorator. A little silly for me and my taste, but not bad considering some of the PC recipes I have experienced over time.

And for my non-chocolate contribution I made a cold Greek inspired pizza. I really went back and forth on whether or not I needed something non-chocolate, and I'm glad that I did decide to do that. I started with a purchased pizza crust (Gasp! The horror- I know, I know). Then I took some Chive cream cheese, stirred in some mayo, lemon juice, and Penzey's Greek Seasoning, and made a sauce for the pizza. I topped this with some pre-cooked chicken breast chopped up, marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, and green onions. I guess it was pretty good. I never actually got a chance to have a piece, but I had back ups in case I needed to toss together a quick second pizza, so I may make it up for lunch today.

Here is the recipe for Eagle Brand Fudge, followed by my quantities for the Orange-Cranberry Pecan additions. I want to add that I have successfully made this with both the low fat and the fat free condensed milk- so if you,d rather- go nuts.

1 can Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk.
1 1/2 pkgs. chocolate chips
1 tsp vanilla

Melt chocolate chips and condensed milk together in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Stir until melted and combined. Stir in vanilla and pour into an 8x8 pan lined with plastic wrap and sprayed with cooking spray. Let cool and harden for several hours before cutting. Add nuts if desired.

Chocolate Cranberry version:

Along with the vanilla, stir in:
FInely grated zest of 1 orange
3/4 cup craisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans

The craisins make it take a little longer for the fudge to set up, so give it overnight before cutting into it. This is a hard step to follow- but you will be rewarded with fabulous orange fudge with yummy bursts of sweetness inside.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

This one...not so good.

Dinner went as planned tonight. Whew. One of our favorite standbys is CL's Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken. It is very simple and very good. Even Abigail gobbles it up, and she usually doesn't care for skin or coating on her chicken. So of course, that was welcome for dinner. My butternut squash risotto however...

This was the first time that I ever made real risotto. The process was a little intensive. Stirring mostly constantly for half an hour was certainly something. It was interesting to see it come together. I'm just not sure I liked it, and I'm just not sure why. I think I liked the texture- it was nice and creamy, yet the grains of rice were a touch chewy, but not annoying chewy. I'm thinking what I didn't like was the squash. I love, love, love squash. Roasted with a touch of butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, and I am in heaven. Just this past Sunday for Company Dinner, one of our guests brought acorn squash halves stuffed with raisins, apples, and cranberries- and that was fabulous! The one time I tried to make a squash soup, I took three bites and had to toss it- the flavors did not work for me. I think that was my problem here. So, I will attempt risotto again, but something non-squashy.

So here are the recipes- the risotto does get good reviews on the CL website- so I am sure it is good if you like those flavors.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Honey Pecan Crusted Chicken
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 chicken breasts -- skinned
8 chicken leg -- skinned
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/4 cups corn flakes -- crushed
1/2 cup pecan -- finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400.
Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over chicken.
Combine honey, mustard, paprika, and garlic. Brush both sides of chicken with sauce.
Combine cornflakes and pecans. Dredge chicken in cornflakes.
Place on large baking sheet that has been prepared with cooking spray. Lightly coat chicken with cooking spray.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
Source: "Cooking Light"Yield: "1 piece" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 439 Calories; 26g Fat (53.3% calories from fat); 41g Protein; 9g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 154mg Cholesterol; 256mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 6 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Fat; 1/2 Other Carbohydrates.

* Exported from MasterCook *
Butternut Squash Risotto
1 cup water -- divided
1 can low-salt beef broth -- (14 1/4-ounce)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 1/2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound) -- (3/4-inch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese -- (2 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh parsley

Bring 3/4 cups water and broth to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 8 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add 1/4 cup water, squash, salt, and pepper; cook 10 minutes or until squash is tender and water has almost evaporated. Add rice; stir until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add the remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in cheese, butter, and parsley. Serve immediately.
Yield: "2/3 cup per serving" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 49 Calories; 5g Fat (98.5% calories from fat); trace Protein; trace Carbohydrate; trace Dietary Fiber; 12mg Cholesterol; 136mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 0 Vegetable; 1 Fat.
Nutr. Assoc. : 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Tomorrow night there will be no dinner- as my chocolate party is tomorrow. If I get a chance I will post all of my temptations tomorrow night- otherwise look for the round-up sometime on Saturday. Have a good Friday everyone.

I'm so excited!!

I found frozen artichoke hearts today!!!! I LOVE artichokes, but really do not like the hassle of preparing one fresh, so I always use canned artichokes. I have been searching for the frozen ones, but have not found them before today. So it's a happy day here! On tap tonight (I hope) will be a Honey-Pecan Crusted Chicken and BUtternut Squash Risotto. Although I am tempted to move up the artichoke dish now...

Anyway,I will be back with more later. I just wanted to share the excitement of the artichoke. And if anyone else is looking- they are actually being marketed by Birds Eye- so if you're grocer carries Birds Eye already, it should be no problem for you to ask them to carry the artichoke hearts too.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Well, this was out of my comfort zone!

Tonight's contribution to the rice challenge was Wild Rice Cakes with Bacon. This is a Cooking Light recipe, and it more than surprised me. Not only was it good, but Andy thought it was a definite repeater- which is about the highest marks you can get at my house. We are already planning on making these again with Thanksgiving leftovers. Adding some chopped turkey to the mix, changing out the thyme for some basil, and adding a cranberry sauce as a topper. The only change I made to the recipe tonight was that I could not find a brown and wild rice blend in our little store. In fact, I couldn't find a white and wild rice blend either. So I improvised using a Wild Rice Pilaf from Far East. I simply left out the seasoning packet and cooked the rice like normal. Worked well, but I bet they will be much better when I can find the actual brown and wild rice blend.

Wild Rice Cakes with Bacon

Make the rice cakes ahead, then reheat in the oven to free the stovetop for other items.

2 teaspoons butter
1 cup uncooked brown and wild rice blend
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Cooking spray

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add salt and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, and rice is tender. Drain any excess liquid. Cool slightly.
Place egg and egg white in a large bowl; add flour and baking powder, stirring with a whisk. Add the rice, green onions, and next 4 ingredients (green onions through bacon), stirring with a rubber spatula until well blended.
Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Spoon 3 (1/4-cup) mounds rice mixture into skillet; flatten slightly with spatula. Cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and thoroughly heated. Repeat procedure with remaining rice mixture. Serve immediately.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: 1 cake)

NUTRITION PER SERVING:CALORIES 128(30% from fat); FAT 4.2g (sat 0.9g,mono 2.1g,poly 0.8g); PROTEIN 4.7g; CHOLESTEROL 20mg; CALCIUM 28mg; SODIUM 412mg; FIBER 1.6g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 17.7g

Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2003

Monday, October 10, 2005

Iron Chef....Rice???

Well all right, per Andy's request this week's challenge is going to be the most undramatic rice. He didn't specify, so I guess I can use any kind of rice I want, but he seems to think I can come up with some new ways to make rice that I haven't before. I may choose to do a risotto this week, because other than my doomed pumpkin risotto a few weeks back, I've never actually made risotto- that could be fun. I am also thinking a rice pudding. Andy suggested an ice cream...maybe a rice pudding ice cream with rum soaked raisins? My usual uses for rice are actually pretty limited. I make a creamed rice that is just milk and rice, and we top it with cinnamon sugar (A Mom specialty- comfort food to me). I eat rice plain as a side (both brown and white). And I have done fried rice- although I am not super fab at that, I do okay. And of course, I top rice with anything Indian or Asian inspired- but thats really plain rice anyway.

This is unexpected, as Andy has always struck me as a non- rice eater, and he'll be around all week. So, tomorrow I will post something ricey!

And in the meantime....I am pleased to announce for all to see that my beautiful baby sister (well, one of them for now anyway) is engaged!!!!! Rachel has finally met her soulmate- and I have to say she did very well at that! I already love Cody like a brother- and my kids are pretty darned fond of him too. So congratulations you two!!! I look forward to helping with the planning and witnessing the beginning of forever!!!!

Sunday, October 9, 2005

A slice of Heaven, and a real challenge today!

I have to start with the challenge of the day. Yesterday I was presented with 3 pheasant to make for company dinner tonight. Um, yeah. Like I know what to do with pheasant. But never one to shy away from a challenge, I set the little buggers to thaw overnight. I went back and forth on how to prepare them. Part of me thought that a lemon-pepper marinade would be good, and part of me thought they'd be perfect for a cacciatore style braise. Well, the lemon pepper marinade one, and I found a pre-made one that was lemon juice based, versus the usual water, corn syrup and flavorings that are so common.

Then I unwrapped those pheasants.

I was greeted by these tiny skinless bodies with their feet still attached! They really were rather disgusting looking, yet they were tiny and delicate. Chicken shaped, but much smaller and darker, and well, yucky. I set my kitchen shear to removing those nasty clawed feet and in the process discovered many a clump of feathers. I had such a hard time cleaning them up. Yuck. I have no problem with chicken, but this... So after further examination, I realized there was very little fat to these little birds, and decided they probably needed some, or they would dry out in no time. That was an easy fix- on to the applewood smoked bacon! After a soak in the marinade, I wrapped the pheasants in bacon and popped them in the oven.

Unfortunately, I still overcooked them, and they did end up a little dry, but the flavor was quite good. I would be tempted to order pheasant out, I think, and I would prepare it again IF I could get them from a butcher properly dressed- not from a hunter. When it came down to it, there was very little meat on one pheasant, and for three families there was hardly enough for much more than a taste, so Andy and Al headed out for a quick bucket of chicken to round out the entree part of dinner.

Then we had dessert. :-) All I can say is hail to Valchemist on the CLBB. She has shared the most wonderful dessert- Gooey Apple Sheet Cake. This is a pan of pure perfection. A moist layer of a spicy apple cake topped with a creamy cheesecake-like layer, yet bits of cake poke through the cheese layer and get all crunchy and yummy. It really is super simple- and it is a definite WOW in the kitchen- and will impress, to be sure. So here is the recipe, make it! It is so easy.

And finally, if you are reading this Lizzie, and haven't done so yet after camping, CALL RACHEL!!!!!!

Gooey Apple Sheet Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup butter -- melted
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
2 c chopped apples -- (1/4-1/2 inch pieces)
1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
For the Topping:
3 cups powdered sugar
8 oz. lowfat cream cheese
2 eggs
1/4 c oats

Mix melted butter and sugar with a mixer. Add eggs and beat well. Combine the flour, baking soda, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, mixing well. Fold in the chopped apples. Spread batter into well greased (or sprayed) 13 x 9 baking pan. Mix Topping ingredients and put over cake BEFORE baking. Bake in a 350ºF oven for 40-45 minutes. You can store this on the counter or in the refrigerator. Great warm, cold, or at room temperature.
Source: "shared by valchemist on CLBB" - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Friday, October 7, 2005

A cozy night at home

I do apologize from my lack of posting this week. I have both been busy and under the weather. I've been spending a lot of time working on costumes for Bye Bye Birdie at our local High School. And while it is fun, it is terribly time consuming. I truly hope the kids will appreciate the madness I am enduring to give them their attire. :-) I also hope I still have friends when I am done with this- because I have very little time for anything other than the costumes and my kids.

Anyway, I fear I have not gotten back ot the leeks. Maybe over the weekend I will feel more inspired, but I seem to have this cold that just won't go away, and inspiration is running a little low in the kitchen. Tonight I did make a very comforting Cheeseburger Soup as shared by Sweetnicks. It was pretty darn good. The kids didn't eat much- but Andy and I enjoyed it. I will post the recipe at the end of my post for anyone interested. I made it as is, except that I used a full pound of ground beef- having a half a pound leftover sitting around seemed silly, so I used it all.

Now, I want to ask my online fellow-food lovers for some assistance. Next Friday I am hosting Pampered Chef party. I am doing a theme party of chocolate! Because PC parties aren't normally my favorite thing to go to- I find the recipes are not for me and rely heavily on processed food. (Cool Whip, pre-made dough, cake mix, etc) I am trying more and more to stay away from those foods if possible. But I figure a chocolate party will be safe, and I booked it to get my friend a booking bonus from her party. Anyway, I am ISO easy chocolate recipes. Right now I have a cake and a fondue from the PC rep, and I am going to make fudge as well, but any other sugegstions, recipes would be more than welcome. Let me know if you have a suggestion.

Anyway, it's been a fairly slow week, but a good week, and I have a feeling it is only going to end up being a really awesome couple of weeks here. There are very, very exciting changes occurring among the lives of family and friends alike, and I'm looking forward to sharing in those experiences. I will not expound more at this time, as it is not for me to share yet, but very soon, there will be some exciting news on my blog. Have a good weekend!

* Exported from MasterCook *
Cheeseburger Soup

1/2 lb browned ground beef
4 cups diced potatoes
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup shredded carrots
8 oz Velveeta
3/4 cup diced celery
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tsp dried basil
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp pepper
3 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup sour cream

Saute onion, carrots, celery, basil and parsley in 1 T butter for about 10 minutes. Add broth, potatoes and hamburger. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt about 3 T butter. Add flour and cook, stirring, for about 3-5 minutes or until bubbly. Add to soup. Bring to boil. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low. Add cheese, milk, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until cheese melts. Remove from heat and stir in sour cream.

Wednesday, October 5, 2005

This one's for Mom Waz...

Mom was curious as to why I was doing an ingredient challenge. It started with that bunch of pumpkin last weekend. I've always been afraid of pumpkin- especially when I thought of it in a savory sense. Pumpkin was for pie and muffins- not ravioli and enchilada sauce. As it turns out it tasted a lot like squash- which I really like, so I learned a valuable lesson, and I figured there were many more things like that, so I would personally challenge myself to think outside of my comforrt zone.

So yes, maybe if I use the ingredient a few times- it will become mine, in the sense that I won't be afraid to use it more often. This weeks leek is already an eye opener. So hopefully it will become more a part of my repertoir as time goes on.

Tuesday, October 4, 2005

And it is good!

Tonight was the first experiment with the leek. I thought it would be best to try the leek as a more straight up type of vegetable, and I was not disappointed! After looking at several recipes for leeks, I decided to combine a couple that I found on www.recipezaar. com. Since it was only me, I used just one leek- although it was a rather large one. I cut in half and rinsed it out, and then sliced it into thin slices. I heated up about a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet and added the leeks. I cooked them over medium low heat until they started to look tender, and then I seasoned with salt and pepper. Next I added a half a cup of chicken broth and let the leek slices braise for about 15 minutes- until the broth was gone. Then the crowning glory. I grated up some cheddar cheese, sprinkled it on top, and broiled the whole pan until the cheese was bubbling like crazy. And it was crazy good. I think this was a good dish to try with Andy out of town, because I'm sure I smell like one giant leek- but oh was it good.

I also am in the process of making a vegetable stock with the green leek tops. I'm not sure it's going very well though, I think I may have used too many onion relatives, and not enough sweeter vegetables. I used 3 green leek tops, 2 med-small onions, 2 cloves garlic, 4 carrots, 2 corn cobs, and 1 green pepper. Oh, and peppercorns, bay leaves, and herbes de provence. It smells really good, but I took one taste to adjust the salt- and I really taste the onion products. So we'll see. About an hour ago I also took a handful of plum tomatoes that were softening, cut them in half and tossed those in, so hopefully we added some flavor and sweetness there.

That's it for tonight- but I wanted to add that if anyone has a suggestion for a food product to challenge in the future- send it my way- I'm open to most suggestions, as long as I can find it around here. Tomorrow I may try something that incorporates leeks as a smaller part of a larger dish- maybe some kind of pasta...

Monday, October 3, 2005

My own little challenge and some pyramids

I really don't have anything new to add today as far as a recipe goes. Tonight we had a classic meal of Hot Dogs and French Fries- as requested by my dear son. However, Abigail said one of the cutest things to day. She brought home some schoolwork that she hadn't had time to finish at school today. So being a good Mom, I sat down with her after supper to let her finish it. She did just fine making her big F's and little F's. When she was done though she looked at me and said "Look Mom, I added some pyramids." and smiled. Pyramids? I didn't see any pyramids on her paper. "See, here." And she pointed to a little dot at the end of her line of F's. Yep, you guessed it. Periods. LOL! That is just too priceless, and I will never look at a period again without thinking about Abigail's pyramids.

Now on to the challenge part of my post. After the brain games of the past weekend, and attempting to "think pumpkin". It got me thinking that there are probably dozens of food items that I don't give just attention to. So I am going to do that. Every Monday I am going to pick a food item and some time between Monday and the following Sunday, I am going to use that food item. Whether that be one dish, or one dish a day, we'll see how it goes. And of course, if anyone wants to join me in my weekly challenges, please do, and let me know, and I'll post your results as well!

So this week I have chosen the humble LEEK as my challenge ingredient. I have only ever used leeks in two dishes. One being potato-leek soup. The other being a pot pie with leeks. So I will try to avoid those dishes. And I highly doubt there will be a leek dessert in my near future. Then again, you never know. ;-)

Last night's Mexican inspired meal.

Last night was fun. I hinted at it in my previous post, but I just didn't have time to post more last night. Poor Zander was needing his Mommy after spending the day playing really hard.

Anyway, last night I made an empty-the-fridge sort of Mexican meal, and it was awesome! I even had leftovers for lunch today- and I'm not a leftover type of girl. I started with a Double Meat and Roasted Red Pepper Enchilada. I can't say that I have exact ingredient amounts here, but I can give a general guidline, and you can adjust accordingly to your tastes.

I started with half a leftover pork roast, and half of a leftover chuck roast. I used a fork to shred up the meat on both and tossed them in a bowl. Then I slowly carmalized 4 medium onions, and added all but about 2 large spoonfuls to the meat. In goes about 1/2 cup diced roasted red pepper. Then I stirred in about 3/4 cup of sour cream and spices. The spices were cumin, chipotle chile powder, coriander, salt and pepper. Finally, 2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese completed my filling. The sauce I'm almost embarrassed to share- it was super simple. I took one large can of whole tomatoes and crushed the tomatoes with my hands. Next I added the remaining carmalized onions and turned the heat on medium low. I let this stew for about 15 minutes, drawing out the sweetness from the onions into the tomatoes. Then I added a pint and a half of homemade salsa. I let this simmer together for about 5 more minutes before attacking the pot with my immersion blender. A check for seasoning and a pinch of salt, I had enchilada sauce, that was awesome! I rolled up the enchiladas in flour tortillas, topped with extra shredded cheese, and baked at 350 for about 30 minutes. Mmmm were they good!

Next I made a new salad: Chickpea, Tomato and Pickled Red Onion Salad. This recipe comes from 1,000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore. While I enjoyed the salad, I don't know that the salad itself was anything to write home about. However, the pickled red onions themselves were a star. I think they will make a great condiment for just about anything, and you could easily substitute a different herb for the mexican oregano. Here is the recipe for the pickled onion, followed by the recipe for the salad.

Pickled Red Onions

3 TBS olive oil
1 large red onion, quarted lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (Mexican variety preferred), crumbled
1 1/2 TBS red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and oregano. Cook, stirring, until the onion is barely tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Marinate for at least 1 hour or up to overnight. Serve the onions at room temereature, or sizzle the onions briefly in a hot skillet just before serving.
Makes about 1 cup.

Chickpea, Tomato, and Red Onion Salad

1 red onion, pickled
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1 TBS olive oil
Freshly ground black pepepr, to taste
1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco (fresh Mexican cheese)

Prepare the pickled red onion and let marinate at least 1 hour. Reserve in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the chickpeas, tomatoes, vinegar, salt, olive oil, and pepper. Drain the onions and add to the salad along with the crumbled cheese. Toss gently to mix. Serve cold or at room temperature.