Sunday, September 30, 2012

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

Our gourmet group met this week...I was going to be out of town all day and requested something quick and easy.  (I got home 45 minutes before we needed to be there!)  It worked out, the hostess found a Mediterranean salad recipe that was perfect for the menu.

There couldn't have been a better was flavor packed and simple to do!  A great summer salad.  I had the leftovers on cottage cheese for lunch.  It was delicious.

Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad
Bon Appetit, June 2011

Serves 8

6 cups coarsely chopped English cucumber (about 2 pounds)
2 large tomatoes (about 1 pound) coarsely chopped
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cup pitted, halved Kalamata olives
1 7-oz package feta, crumbled, divided
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper

Combine cucumbers, tomatoes, scallions, olives, half of the feta, and mint in a large bowl.  Whisk oil and lemon juice in a small bowl; season dressing with salt and pepper.  Pour dressing over salad; toss to coat.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle remaining half of feta over and serve.


How easy was that?  It was colorful, flavorful and simple!!

I am sharing at On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lemon Chicken Asian Style

When I first saw this recipe on Ann's blog, Thibeault's Table, I knew it was destined for my dinner table!  She had me at the word, lemon and the beautiful photograph!

It was as tasty as the photograph promised.  We loved it....a light, crisp batter and sweet/tart lemony sauce!!

Lemon Chicken Asian Style

Boneless skinless chicken breasts
Green onions, chopped

1 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp baking powder
Salt and pepper
2 egg yolks (optional)
Soda water

Mix the flour, cornstarch,baking powder and salt and pepper together.  Beat egg yolks (if using) and mix with soda water.  Add to flour mixture.  Add enough soda water to make a batter that is slightly thinner than a pancake batter.

Pound the chicken breasts out lightly.

Fry the chicken breasts, one at a time in a fryer.  Dip the chicken breast into the batter.  Hold over the bowl, letting excess batter drip back into the bowl.  Slowly add chicken breast to the hot oil (375° - 400° F.) and fry until golden brown, turning once or twice.  Drain on paper towels and then place cooked chicken on a rack over a baking sheet.  Place the chicken in the oven to keep it warm while cooking the remaining pieces.  (Using the rack prevents the coating from becoming soggy.)

To serve, slice the chicken, drizzle with lemon sauce and sprinkle with chopped green onions.

Lemon Sauce
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
2 - 4 Tbsp honey
1 tsp grated ginger
1 minced garlic clove
1 tsp cornstarch (mixed with a little water)

Place lemon juice, chicken broth, honey, ginger and garlic in a small saucepan and simmer until reduced by half.  Mix cornstarch with a little broth or water and add to sauce.  Cook a few minutes.

The sauce can be adjusted to suit your personal preference, sweet or tangy, by adjusting the amount of honey.


This was super tasty!!

I am participating in Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Beer-Braised Sirloin Tips with Mushroom Sauce

It was the word beer and the mushroom sauce that caught my eye when I saw this recipe in by inbox last week. It seemed a good one for fall, and, since I am pushing for cool weather, I decided to go for it.  I keep thinking if I cook  for cool weather surely the weather god will hear me and bless all of us cool breezes.

The mushroom sauce had a great flavor so I was not disappointed.  I had hoped that the sirloin would be a bit more tender but I think that was because I usually buy a tray at Costco and this time I did not.  I will repeat the recipe.  It was easy and had a nice depth of flavor.

Beer-Braised Sirloin Tips 
with Mushroom Sauce
adapted from Fine Cooking, October, 2003

1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crushed
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 tsp. sweet paprika
Kosher salt
1 1/2 lb. sirloin tip steaks, 3/4 to 1 inch thick
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, preferably cremini (baby bellas)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
4 scallions, thinly sliced, white and light green parts separated from dark green parts (save both)
1 cup dark ale or porter beer (I used Negra Modelo)
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

Mix the mustard, brown sugar, thyme, ginger, paprika, and 1 tsp salt in a small bowl until well combined.  Coat both sides of the steaks with the spice mix.

Trim the ends of the cremini.  Wipe all of the mushrooms clean and slice them 1/4 inch thick.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  When the oil is shimmering, add half the steaks and sear them until nicely browned, 2 to 3 minutes per side (the steaks will brown quickly because of the sugar in the spice mix).  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining steaks.

Reduce the heat to medium, add 1 Tbs  of the butter to the pan, and let it melt.  Add the mushrooms, the scallion whites, and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the mushrooms soften and brown, 4 to 6 minutes.  pour in the beer and Worcestershire.  Scrape the bottom of the pan , raise the heat to medium high, bring to a boil, and cook, uncovered, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.

Return the steaks and any accumulated juices to the pan, cover tightly with a lid and reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Braise, turning the steaks after 8 minutes, until tender and just cooked through (they should  be easy to slice with a paring knife), about 16 minutes total.  Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and slice them thinly.

Cut the remaining 1 Tbs. butter into four pieces and swirl them into the sauce.  Stir in the scallion greens and taste for seasoning.  Serve the steak slices topped with the sauce.


I am sharing at On the Menu Monday hosted by Yvonne at Stone Gable and Recipe Sharing Monday hosted by Ali at Jam Hands.  I am also sharing at Food on Friday hosted by Carole at Carole's Chatter.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Pumpkin-Buttermilk Cake with Brown Sugar and Cognac Glaze

Oh the goodness....pumpkin, pecans, brown sugar glaze with just a hint of cognac...oh my.  I always think that if I start baking we will be blessed with fall weather.  I have been waiting for it to cool down and while I wait I am enjoying another slice of this wonderful cake.  It is so moist and as promised in the recipe, the flavors do seem to deepen on the next day.  

This is a super keeper!!  I am thinking it would be the perfect dessert at Thanksgiving.  I saw the recipe in the most recent issue of Fine Cooking magazine under the heading Bake Now, Eat Later....there was no later at our house.  What were they thinking?  

Before I could bat an eyelash, Chris at The Cafe Sucre Farine had adapted the recipe just a bit and posted her beautiful cake.

Pumpkin-Buttermilk Cake 
with Brown Sugar and Cognac Glaze
adapted  from Fine Cooking, Oct/Nov 2012

Cake Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened, additional for the pan
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons cognac or bourbon
1½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup vegetable oil
2½ cups packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 15-oz. can pure pumpkin purée
1 cup pecan halves, toasted and chopped

Glaze Ingredients
3/4 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 Tablespoons cognac
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3  cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup sifted confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Candied Pecan Ingredients
2 Tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons mild honey, such as clover
3/4 cup pecan halves
Vegetable oil for the pan

Making the cake
Heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter and flour a 10- to 12-cup tube pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves. In a measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, cognac, and vanilla.

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until creamy.  Gradually add the oil, beating until combined.  Add the brown sugar. Increase the mixer speed to high and beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well on medium-high speed after each addition. Beat in the pumpkin.

Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the buttermilk mixture, and mix until combined. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the batter, mixing just until combined. Fold the toasted, chopped pecans into the batter.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and tap the pan on the counter once or twice to settle the batter.

Bake until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 50 to 60 minutes.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes then invert the cake onto a rack, removing the pan, and cool completely, at least 3 hours.  

Making the candied pecans
Heat the brown sugar, honey, and 1 Tablespoon water in a quart saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Add the pecans and stir until coated.  Spread the pecans curved side up on an oiled baking sheet and bake at 350° F. until fragrant and shiny, 7 to 10 minutes.  Transfer the pecans  with a metal spatula to parchment to crisp and cool completely, about 20 minutes.

Making the glaze
In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, cognac,  and salt, over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves, about 2 minutes. Add the cream, raise the heat to high, and bring to a boil, watching and stirring constantly. Continue to boil, stirring occasionally, for exactly 1 minute.  

Remove from the heat and gently whisk in the confectioner's sugar and the vanilla until completely smooth.  Let stand until the glaze is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon but still warm and pourable, 3 to 8 minutes.  If a skin forms, stir it back into the glaze with a spatula; don't overstir or the glaze may crystallize.  (I suggest waiting for the glaze to really thicken...I was over-eager.)

Place the cake on a rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Spoon the glaze slowly and evenly over cake allowing it to drip down the sides.  When the glaze is set, carefully move the cake to the serving plate.  (If you are nervous about transferring the cake after glazing, you may move the cake and glaze it when on the serving plate...the glaze would need to be very thick or it will be sitting in a pool  of glaze...not a good thing!)

Decorate with the candied pecans while the glaze is warm.  


I just happened to have a bit of the glaze, I added just a touch when the cake was served...I really could eat the glaze by the is that good!!

I am sharing at Foodie Friday hosted by Michael at Rattlebridge Farm, Sweet Tooth Friday, Foodie Friday hosted by Diane at Simple Living and Sweets for a Saturday.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

Fall vegetables are starting to appear in our veggie box.  Yippee!  I love all that the fall harvest has to offer.  Who doesn't like butternut squash, beets, pumpkin, apples, pears....oh, the fun that awaits each of us.  This week I found beets and butternut squash in the box so I knew I was going to be  looking for a vegetable recipe.  I was in luck as I had been assigned A Vegan Obsession for the Secret Recipe Club this month.  As I cruised through India-Leigh's lovely blog, I was quickly drawn to her recipe for Balsamic Roasted Vegetables.  I must admit that there were so many tasty treats listed that I had to restrain myself and think vegetables only!!  India-Leigh's blog focuses on gluten and sugar-free cooking.   She has been tracking down recipes since 2001!  What a collection!

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables

Serves four 

Preheat oven to 425° F.

1  butternut squash 
3 large beetroots (fresh, not pre-cooked)
1 sweet potato
2 large onions
6 cloves of garlic
1/4 bottle of balsamic vinegar 
2 springs of fresh rosemary
2-3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

·    Peel the squash and the beets.  Roughly chop all of the vegetables except for the garlic cloves. Place them into a roasting pan and  pour the balsamic liberally over them.    Zig-zag a good splash of extra virgin olive oil over the top and liberally salt and pepper.   

Bake for approx 40-50 minutes.  The vegetables will darken as they bake.  Not to worry, it's the balsamic.  Test them after 40 minutes to see if they are soft.


I love the sweet yet sharp taste of the vegetables!  While we roast root vegetables frequently, I had never poured balsamic over them...what a nice treat!!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Rosemary Potato Frittata

It was a beautiful cool morning, everybody was asleep, even the new baby!  I decided to play in the kitchen and make a quick breakfast.  A frittata sounded really good way to get the day started.

Rosemary Potato Frittata
adapted from Rachel Ray

3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 medium potato, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
3-4 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped
6 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup Parmesan, shredded
Salt and fresh ground pepper

Preheat oven:  450° F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium low heat.  Add the crushed clove of garlic.  Allow the garlic to infuse the oil while you thinly slice the potato and onion.  Add the potatoes and onion to the skillet and season with the rosemary, salt and pepper, to taste.  Raise the heat a little and cook for 6-7 minutes.  Turn the potatoes and onion and cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Mix the eggs and milk together in a bowl.  Pour the egg mixture over the potatoes and onion.  Shake the skillet and move the potatoes to settle the eggs around them.  Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake 10-11 minutes.  Turn off the oven.  Sprinkle the cheese on top of the frittata and allow the frittata to sit in the oven a few more minutes.  Remove from the oven and serve.


I can easily see that this could be a base recipe and many different things could be added....mushrooms, asparagus, tomatoes, whatever your preference.

I am participating in Thursday's Treasures hosted by Recipes for my Boys.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Marinated Tomatoes and Cucumbers, Revisited, Kind-of

There was a never-empty basket of tomatoes on the counter and something had to be done.  What came to mind as I surveyed the garden and the frig was marinated tomatoes and cucumbers.

This is a slight variation from my previous post.  There should be about/loosely a 2 cup to 1 cup ratio, tomatoes to cucumbers.

Kate's Marinated Tomatoes and Cucumbers

6-8 baby heirloom tomatoes, sliced or the equivalent quartered (whatever is on hand works!)
1/2 cucumber, peeled and sliced
1 slice purple onion, diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 Tbsp chopped dill
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp vinegar
2 tsp prepared mustard

Layer tomatoes, cucumber, and purple onion in a shallow dish. Sprinkle parsley and basil on top. Combine oil, vinegar, prepared mustard, salt, sugar, pepper, and garlic in a small jar; shake well. Pour mixture over the vegetables. Let stand at room temperature at least 20 minutes. After 20 minutes drain excess marinade from the tomatoes and cucumbers, then chill and serve.


Friday, September 7, 2012

Ranch Dressing

I was so happy to get see that Tina at Mom's Crazy Cooking will be continuing the
Crazy Cooking Challenge!  The challenge is theme-based so you can find a recipe from, well, anywhere to share as long as it matches the theme.  This month's theme:  Ranch Dressing.

I must admit to never having made ranch dressing before....but, why not give it a try.  We are traveling at the moment but I was able to find a Ranch Dressing recipe to make and share.  The plan is to use it as a dipping sauce for some BBQ chicken wings.  I found the perfect recipe at Smells Like Home.

Ranch Dressing

3/4 cup mayonnaise (I use light mayo)
3/4 cup sour cream 
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 to 1 cup buttermilk (I used low-fat buttermilk.)
1 small bunch of chives or 2 scallions, roughly chopped
Small handful of parsley
1 clove garlic
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place all ingredients with 1/4 cup of buttermilk in a blender and blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in additional buttermilk if desired. Less buttermilk for dipping and more for dressing. Store in an air-tight jar in the refrigerator.  Leftovers will keep 2-3 weeks.



The Crazy Cooking Challenge is fun and stress-free!  If you are interested in participating, be sure to stop by Tina's blog, Mom's Crazy Cooking, for all of the information!

Trisha Yearwood's Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Casserole

When I saw the post made by Cathy at Wives with Knives, I knew I was going to have it on my plate before the end of the week!  I was in the mood for a casserole and this one was packed with things that I love.  I mean, who can turn down rice, chicken and broccoli?!

It reminded me a little of a recipe that I learned to make before getting may have heard of Chicken Divan.  I was anxious to prepare this dish to see how it compared.  I added a couple of tablespoons of sherry to the mixture.  I also cheated and bought from frozen chopped broccoli and some frozen broccoli spears.  I used half of each bag.

Trisha Yearwood's 
Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Casserole
Cathy and Kate's adaptation from Making Memories...One Fun Thing After Another

  • 3 – 4 cups cooked rice
  • 2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cubed (I poached the breasts in chicken broth and wine.)
  • 4 cups cooked broccoli cut into medium size pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 10-ounce can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 tablespoon minced onion 
  • 1 teaspoon Worchestershire Sauce 
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced 
  • 4 cups cheddar cheese, grated (half mixed into the sauce, half sprinkled on top)
  • 2 Tbsp sherry
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon white pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Spray a 9 x 13-inch casserole with cooking spray. Layer cooked rice, broccoli and chicken in the pan.
  3. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice and chicken soup. Add 2 cups of the grated cheese and mix well. Pour over the rice mixture. Top with the remaining grated cheese.
  4. Bake for 35-40 minutes until bubbly and browned.

Casserole pictures never seen to turn out for me.  One of these days I won't be in a hurry and I will figure out how to make it look nice!  This was delicious...from the first serving to the last!  Thank you, Cathy for sharing your daughter's great dish!

I am sharing this at Thursday's Treasures.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Strozzapreti with Red Pasta Meat Sauce

Earlier this month I read an interesting article on Cathy's blog, Noble Pig.  She was discussing the merits of different brands of canned tomatoes.  She was actually participating in a taste test.  Muir Glen had asked her to do a blind taste test comparing their organic whole tomatoes with another brand.  If read Cook's Illustrated you probably noticed their recent report siting Muir Glen Organic Whole Tomatoes as the favorite for flavor, texture and overall appeal.

I also learned that it is best to buy whole tomatoes as opposed to diced or sauce as the standard for ripeness is higher for whole was an interesting read.  Naturally, I brought Cathy's recipe for Red Pasta Sauce with me on my trip to Seattle.

Noble Pig's Red Pasta Sauce is a winner.  What first appealed to me was the addition of pizza sauce....I love the flavors and just had to give it a try.  It is so thick and rich and flavorful that I cannot imagine using any other recipe.  This goes down as a favorite and it also goes on the rotation!!

My daughter had a bag of strozzapreti in the cupboard so that became the pasta of choice.  I did have to adapt a bit...I could not find pizza seasoning so I substituted oregano and I used fresh parsley.

Strozzapreti with Red Pasta Meat Sauce
adapted from Noble Pig

2 (28 oz) cans Muir Glen Organic Whole Tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can Muir Glen Organic Pizza Sauce
1 (6 oz) can Muir Glen Organic Tomato Sauce
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp pizza seasoning (I substituted oregano.)
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
1 Tbsp dried parsley leaves (I substituted fresh parsley.)
1 Tbsp finely minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs ground beef, 80/20 mixture

In a large heavy duty pan, add all ingredients except for the ground beef.  Bring to a slight boil and turn down the heat.  Cover and simmer on low for two hours, stirring occasionally, using a wooden spoon to break up the whole tomatoes as they cook down.

Right before the sauce is done, cook ground beef until done and meat is browned well.  Do not forget to season the meat well with salt and pepper.  When meat is done, drain the fat and add it to the sauce.

Serve over your favorite pasta.

As I transcribed the recipe I realized that I had proportions wrong....I didn't use 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes!  I grabbed the 15 oz size....oh well, it was still absolutely delicious!!


I am sharing this with Thursday's Treasures and Full Plate Thursday.