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Tag Archives: comfort food

I’m a TV Star!

I’m a TV Star!
two women cooking

Bridgett (left) and me (right) just cooking on TV, like we do…

Ok – maybe not a star, but I was asked to demonstrate my Mac & Cheese with Pears recipe on our local PBS station as a part of their KCTSCooks program. Twice a year our station asks for recipe submissions for a category of recipe – this show was about Pasta, Rice & Grains. They generally get 300+ submissions from all over and ask a small portion of folks to share their recipe on the air – I was one of 12. I had practiced at home a few weeks prior, showing my pal Jacquie how I prepared the dish and having her help me. I had to bring a finished dish, my demo pasta precooked, the rest of the ingredients,and a pre-made pot of the cheese sauce so it would all fit into the 10 minute segment. The day before heading to Seattle, I did all my prep and practiced in my head as I made two full recipes of the pasta and cheese sauce, packaged up my other ingredients and finished the full recipe so that, by the magic of television, a finished casserole could be removed from the oven for the unveiling. (Please note that the measurements aren’t exact on the video and that you are welcome to purchase the book from KCTS to get all the other recipes.) As I was preparing to go on – and it was shown LIVE, people! – I decided to pre-chop my onions to avoid crying and getting snotty on camera. (it was a good call). I was scheduled about halfway through, so I had plenty of time to be nervous and watch some of the people ahead of me. I was right after a low-fat, Vegan, gluten-free recipe – pretty much the opposite of my recipe which was fatty, gluten-filled and had meat, milk and cheese!Variety is the spice of life -am I right, people?

I’ve posted my Mac & Cheese recipe before, but I’ve jazzed it up some since – a recipe isn’t any good unless you can deviate from the printed text to make it your own! This version uses extra sharp cheddar (white) cheese as well as bleu cheese for the sauce.

It was a very fun day of being nervous, cooking, and eating! Recipe HERE. Watch video of segment HERE.

macaroni, cheese, sausage, pears

“Beauty shot” of my prepared dish.

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Posted by on November 14, 2014 in Entertaining, Information, Recipe

 

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Moroccan Chicken Stew – Exotic and Delish!

Moroccan Chicken Stew – Exotic and Delish!
cinnamon, cumin, black and red pepper, and turmeric.

This little jar holds cinnamon, cumin, black and red pepper, and turmeric.

When I find a ready-made food that I really enjoy, I like to try and re-create it in my own kitchen. Campbell’s Soup is trying to reach out to the younger set with new and interesting soups in pouches under the name “Campbell’s Go.”  I’m from the tail-end of the Baby Boomers – not a Millennial, but my taste buds aren’t dead yet! I tried and loved their Moroccan Style Chicken soup, so I made a note of the ingredients and gave it a try. What really helped was finding a jar of a Moroccan spice blend – saved me from trying to figure out how much turmeric –vs- cinnamon or cumin! The first time, I used diced tomatoes for the base, and added some water; I also used leftover rotisserie chicken instead of starting from scratch. It was flavorful, but too soupy – not the consistency I was looking for. This time, I used crushed tomatoes and a tub of concentrated chicken stock (look for it near the broths in the soup aisle) as the base which gave me the consistency I was looking for – more like a spaghetti sauce than a soup. I also used boneless, skinless chicken thighs (3 for this recipe), that I cut up into chunks before cooking, so the prep was longer, but ultimately worth it. Overall, I’d say it took about ½ hour of prep and I simmered it for under an hour. I served it with couscous and flat bread in a soup plate.

  • 2 c. cubed raw chicken
  • ½ c coarsely chopped onion
  • 1 c coarsely chopped carrots
  • 1 tbl olive oil

    Chicken,carrots and onions, sauteed in olive oil.

    Chicken,carrots and onions, sauteed in olive oil.

  • 1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1-14.5 oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • Fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1-2 tbl Moroccan spice mix
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 serving concentrated chicken stock

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and cook for a couple of minutes; add chicken and pepper to taste. Stir and cook chicken/onion mixture for 5 minutes and then add the carrots and continue to cook and stir until carrots begin to soften. Dump in the tomatoes and garbanzo beans; add stock and spices, stir. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve in a shallow bowl with couscous and naan bread.

Moroccan Chicken Stew, couscous, flat bread

Dinner is served!

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2014 in Recipe

 

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Guest Post: Mom’s Magic Meatloaf

Guest Post: Mom’s Magic Meatloaf

Your guest blogger today is my daughter, Andrea. I asked her to write a guest post because she as waxing poetic about my meatloaf recipe. Well, it’s sort of my recipe. Let’s put it this way: My mom put this recipe in a church cookbook a million years ago and this is the same recipe with my modifications. Andrea has a blog HERE. Follow her – she’s funny!

Fact: there is no way to make meatloaf look good in pictures.  I’m not claiming to be a master at the camera phone food technique, but I’m no slouch.  And meatloaf is one of those foods that just doesn’t photograph well.

But OH the taste!  Meaty and juicy and redolent with spices from the sauce you have slathered upon it.  We made meatloaf last night, and I insisted that it be my mom’s meatloaf.  Because everyone’s favorite meatloaf is almost invariably their mother’s.  Until you try this meatloaf and realize that your favorite meatloaf is actually from MY mother.  My husband declared it to be magic and said that he would be sending his very culinary minded brother the recipe.

Not only is this recipe full of delight and husband-pleasing goodness, but it is pretty quick and easy to come together.  Perfect for when you are trying to throw together dinner while the Seahawks game is paused and everyone is hungry and apparently no one in town knows how to go the speed limit to get you home in time for kick off.

Side note: I am trying out football this year, and this is fortunate as the Seahawks are having a very good year.  Go shiny pants, go!

The Seahawks won the game, but I think we won it even more because we were eating delicious meatloaf while sitting on the couch and they were running around in the wet and cold while wearing spandex.  I think it is clear who comes out on top in that comparison.

So the recipe is as follows:

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 4 slices of bread, diced up (any old bread will do.  I think we de-crusted ours for maximal mushy texture)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ c chopped onion
  • 1 tbl Worcestershire sauce
  • Pepper, fresh ground, to taste

Combine all this goodness together.  Spray a large loaf pan with non-stick spray and press the meat mixture into the pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Now, make the sauce by combining:

  • ½ c Ketchup
  • 1/3 c brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • ¼ tsp allspice

We only had mustard seeds and allspice berries so we used our handy-dandy coffee spice grinder and put in a little extra of both.  The resulting concoction made our entire kitchen smell like happiness.

After 30 minutes in the oven, take out the meatloaf and carefully drain out any liquid that has built up.  You will be worried that you are setting yourself up for dry meatloaf as you are pouring all that juice into the sink, but believe me when I say that everything will be fine.  Just drain the meatloaf without dumping the whole thing into the sink, and you’re good.  Then slather that sauce you just made on the top of the meatloaf and pop it back in the oven to finish.  20-30 minutes- ours took 30 minutes.  Check your desired doneness with a meat thermometer.  Let it sit at room temperature for 5 minutes before slicing.  Try not to actively salivate onto the meatloaf unless you aren’t planning to share.  I won’t blame you in the slightest if you want to keep the entire thing for yourself.

This is the only meatloaf picture I will subject you to.  You need to try it for yourself to really appreciate it.

This is the only meatloaf picture I will subject you to. You need to try it for yourself to really appreciate it.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2013 in Guest Blogger, Recipe

 

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I Love Beta-Carotene Season: Stuffed Delicata Squash

Delicata Squash - the skin is edible, believe it or not!

While shopping at a farmers’ market in my daughter’s new hometown, we came across a couple of bushels of some beautiful, striped squashes and were about 6-8 inches long. I’d never seen this type before -or at least hadn’t really noticed them – so we asked about them and decided to get a few to try. (in retrospect, I wish I had bought a lot more!) Their size just screamed “stuffing!” so that is the way I decided to go.

[ In a bizarre coincidence, a local food blogger was on our NPR station talking about Delicata squash the other morning and she said that the skin is edible and the flesh is very sweet. She cuts them into rings and roasts them, brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with salt & pepper on baking sheet. Simple! ]

Cooked pork sausage, sourdough bread, herbs & spices

This recipe used two Delicata Squash, making 4 servings. First I made the stuffing – about 4 c. cubed sourdough bread, 6-8 oz. ground pork sausage (cooked & crumbled), 1 tsp sage, 1/2 tsp thyme, 1/2 c vegetable broth, 1-2 tbl dried onion flakes. I cooked the sausage and threw everything else into the pot without draining – I had used a low fat version of Jimmy Dean sausage and it had surprisingly little fat. You could use Stove-Top stuffing, but this really did not take all that much time and definitely had less sodium!

I washed the squash and cut it in half length-wise and then scooped out the seeds and goop. There wasn’t a lot and it wasn’t really goopy like some squashes. In order for a couple of them to lie on the baking sheet without rolling, I shaved a few slices off the back to

Ready to pop in the oven!

give it a flatter surface. I didn’t oil my baking sheet because I use the silicone baking mats – I’ve mentioned these before! Have you bought some yet? What are you waiting for?!?! Go on – I’ll wait…

I brushed oil on the edges of the squash and divided my prepared stuffing between the 4 halves. After grinding some sea salt, fresh pepper and a little cinnamon over them, I dotted the stuffing with butter (about 2 tbl between the 4) and baked them for 45-50 minutes at 375 degrees. At about the halfway mark, I covered them with foil to keep the stuffing from getting too crunchy. Poke them with a fork to make sure they have the right amount of tenderness – your fork should slide easily into the flesh.

[ Another bizarre coincidence: my daughter cooked her squashes the same night with a similar stuffing, only she added dried cranberries and goat cheese – yum! ]

Delicata? Delicious!

The squash was sweet, but not overly so and the sausage in the stuffing gave the whole dish a nice kick. We both ate the skin – which had no discernible taste and did not detract from the dish in any way – although I skipped eating the very end bits (blossom & stem). Both my husband and I found that one half squash was plenty to fill us up so now we have some “delicata” leftovers! I’ll definitely make this again and – if I could find some smaller ones – it would make a lovely side dish for a holiday meal or to a dress-up leftover turkey dinner.

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2011 in Information, Recipe

 

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Pre-made Simmmer Sauce, Packaged Soup Mix: Is it cheating?

Lemon Artichoke Simmer Sauce

After a recent shopping trip that included World Market, I came away with a couple of packaged recipe starters – a simmer sauce and dried soup mixes. Although some purists may disagree, I don’t believe using such things for inspiration or a jumping off point is cheating. If I am adding 4 or more ingredients I have to prepare myself to make a complete dish, then it is merely one of the steps in the preparation. (Step 5. Dump in Simmer Sauce) Few of us have the time it would take to create a fresh sauce of this sort – at least in time for that evening’s dinner! The one I chose had lemon juice, artichokes and white wine as its main flavors – which sounded like a marvelous combination to me! I used boneless chicken thighs (1 1/2 lb) that I dredged in flour/ground pepper and then lightly browned in olive oil.

4 or more ingredients added? Not cheating!

I added chopped onion (1/2 c), sliced zucchini (2 small), canned artichoke quarters (14 oz., drained), and mushrooms (1 c sliced), as well as the sauce, and simmered for 35-40 minutes. I served it on Basmati rice to soak up the juices. Delicious!

My other recipe starter was World Market’s Bistro Style Lentil Soup Mix. Even though there were dehydrated vegetables in the mix, the instructions called for fresh ingredients like onion (1/2 onion, chopped), garlic (2 cloves – it called for 4!), and carrots (1 c chopped), as well as canned diced tomatoes (14.5 oz) and chicken broth (2 c). I took it a bit further and added mushrooms (1 c sliced), spinach (2 c)  and sliced cooked Aidell’s Sausage (1 pkg. chicken & apple).

Dried Soup Mix

The soup had to simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, so this is not something you can decide to make on the spur of the moment! In all fairness, you would have simmer it that long if you gathered and measured all the lentils yourself. Undercooked lentils are crunchy and not really what you are going for in a soup. The house smelled amazing while it was cooking, by the way. I’m surprised there wasn’t a line of neighbors – or raccoons – outside the door by the time it was ready to be served! I chose a chewy ciabatta roll as an accompaniment to this soup, so we could swipe out our bowls!

Something that could have been done before adding the sausage and spinach (they were added with about 1/2 hour to go), would be to run it through a blender to make it smooth and creamy, but I had to dash out the door after bolting down a quick, still-simmering bowl, so maybe next time!

A hearty soup for a chilly day!

PS When I returned home, I grabbed a second bowl and my ciabatta roll – tasty! Plenty of leftovers, too!

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2011 in Information, Recipe

 

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A Recipe in Progress: Orzo & Red Rice

"I'm late - but dinner won't be!"

When they first came out, frozen dinners were a marvel of science; a product of convenience for the modern woman. Later they became a symbol of poor nutrition and of lack of finesse in the kitchen. Today, you can find frozen dinners that are tasty and healthy. One that I tried when I had a solo weekend was by Healthy Choice (I think) and called “Mediterranean Pasta.” I loved it! It had pasta, rice apples, cranberries, spinach – very flavorful. Naturally, it was discontinued, but not before I wrote down all the ingredients and attempted to re-create this dish for myself! As it says in the title of this post, it is a work in progress…

I still don’t think I have the spices down quite right – none were specifically mentioned on the package (curse them!), but who’s going to know the difference? They don’t make this one anymore! If this sounds like your kind of recipe, please give it a try and let me know what you thought; what changes you made; how it can be improved, etc.

And speaking of changes, I like the flavor of Swiss chard better than spinach and I added mushrooms (small, sliced Portabello mushrooms). I’m calling it “Orzo and Red Rice” because I already have a recipe I use with the original name.

Let’s talk about ingredients: Red rice is an interesting choice and you may need to look hard for it, but I think a wild rice would be an acceptable substitute, nutrition and texture-wise. Fontina cheese is similar to mozzarella, but I’ve also substituted smoked extra sharp cheddar – the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup, so it is not a huge issue. Swiss chard is a fairly new vegetable for me – we bought a farm-share one summer and ended up with a lot of it. My research indicated that the stems are not eaten and the big vein down the middle should be removed, so that is how I prepare it. Also – a bunch makes a big pile of chard shards! Don’t panic because it will cook down in a few minutes. Like most of the other meatless main dish I make, my husband thinks it would be better if it included sausage or some other meat. Up to you! Apple juice was listed in the original ingredients’ list, but that is not something I keep around much. I usually end up buying a 3 pack of 100% apple juice in little boxes. (Hence, I chose 6 oz. as the amount of apple juice needed in the recipe!)

Ready to serve!

This recipe takes about 45 minutes, including prep., so it is very doable on a busy night. It all goes into one pot – in my case, a deep, 12 inch covered skillet (one of my most-used pans!), so you don’t have too much to clean up afterward- especially if you have a dog who will snap up that apple piece you dropped!

Be sure to let me know how/if you liked it and any other comments you wish to make!

 
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Posted by on September 20, 2011 in Asking for Feedback, Recipe

 

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My Husband Likes to Bake, So I Let Him: Raspberry Scones

It’s not that I don’t like to bake – I do! But my husband has developed a talent and drive to bake which I will not discourage! He particularly enjoys baking goodies for breakfast – scones, muffins, coffee cakes, etc. He was whining a bit that he loves the flavor and texture of scones made with King Arthur Scone mixes, but feels they are too expensive. (They are! They run between $7-$9 for a package that makes a dozen – crazy!) We have started buying King Arthur Flour when it is on sale – I can’t articulate the difference. Perhaps it is a finer grind of flour, a different type of wheat – but baked goods are just better when made with this brand. They have a website, so you can order items directly from the company, but you won’t save a penny and it will probably cost more, so look in your local grocery store if you are interested in using their products (or keep checking their site for sales). It is a nice website, though! In a moment of inspiration, he looked up scone recipes on the site and found one that would accommodate the ingredients we had on hand, without a  pre-breakfast dash to the grocery store!

Raspberry Scones made with King Arthur Flour

It was a blueberry scone recipe – we didn’t have any, and it called for vanilla yogurt – also absent from the larder. What we did have was raspberries and a container of Greek-style Honey Yogurt – both acceptable substitutes! It also listed almond flavoring and lemon zest – neither of which went into this  batch. I didn’t miss them and you won’t either! The recipe on this PDF is the altered double-batch version he made for us. They are “dropped” instead of kneaded and cut-style scones and was the way the recipe was written.The scones were sweet and had a lovely vanilla-raspberry flavor! No jam or butter needed – all that is built right into the scone!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2011 in Recipe

 

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