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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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Cooking for Two: Caprese Sauce on Basil Gnocchi

Cooking for Two: Caprese Sauce on Basil Gnocchi

Don’t you just love those caprese appetizers? Those little fresh mozzarella balls and cherry tomatoes skewered on picks and drizzled with balsamic vinegar? So yummy! I decided to make a sauce based on those delightful, summery, picks-o-goodness! Only no toothpicks. Because that would be dangerous.

I picked up a package of basil gnocchi at our local World Market for this dish, but regular gnocchi should work also. I used “pearl” tomatoes – which are more golf-ball sized, so I’m not sure where the name came from! A couple of diced, seeded Roma tomatoes would work just dandy. Speaking of pearls, I wish I could have found those cute little pearl-sized fresh mozzarella balls, but oh well!

1 – 16 oz. pkg. Basil Gnocchi

3-4 cloves Roasted Garlic

mozzarella balls, tomatoes, basil, caprese sauce

The sauce just needs to simmer a little longer to warm through!

¾ c white wine

1 tbl. Balsamic vinegar

1 tbl olive oil

3 small Tomatoes, cut in wedges and seeded

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/3 c chopped fresh basil (I use scissors)

12 fresh mozzarella balls (1 inch size –although I would have loved to have found the pearl-sized mozzarella)

SAUCE: Measure the wine and Balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan – add the roasted garlic and bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt & pepper and simmer 2 minutes longer. Put in the mozzarella balls and basil and warm through.

gnocchi, caprese sauce, basil, tomatoes, mozzarella balls

We ate every single bite!

GNOCCHI: Using only mountain spring water, hauled by hand in a copper bucket…kidding! Cook according to package directions. Drain and return to the pan. Pour the sauce over the gnocchi and stir gently. Serve immediately.

Note: I should have added a teaspoon of sugar to the sauce to cut the acidity of the tomatoes and vinegar…next time!!

 
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Posted by on January 23, 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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Holiday Dinner Side Dish: Squashle Sauce

Holiday Dinner Side Dish: Squashle Sauce

Did you know that squash and apples go together like cranberries and oranges? When combined, I call it “Squashle Sauce” and it is super simple to make! It is a sweet rather than savory side dish so it is a nice contrast to stuffing, green bean casserole and the like.

First you need some butternut squash and some apples – this batch had 2 medium sized squash and 4 apples, but you can adjust to however much you want to make (this was a huge batch for a large crowd!

Butternut squash - peel with veggie peeler

Butternut squash – peel with veggie peeler

After washing the produce, peel the squash with a vegetable peeler and cut it into chunks, discarding the seeds and pulp. Peel and chunk the apples, discarding the core/seeds/etc.

Put water into the bottom of a large pan to about an inch deep – add the chunked up goodies. Bring to a simmer and cover. Stir frequently – add more water if needed to keep from scorching (lower the heat!) If it is too juicy, leave the lid off to allow it to cook down.

Use a fork to test for tenderness – you want to be able to pierce the chunks easily. Once they are tender enough, use a potato masher to, well, mash them!

Add butter, brown sugar, salt, spices – I use cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice, but ginger would be a nice addition, too!

Chunks!

Chunks!

Add brown sugar, salt & spices to taste
Add brown sugar, salt & spices to taste
Continue to stir & cook until the butter is melted or it until it has an apple sauce-like consistency. (NOW do you get the name of the recipe?)  This is a great one to make a day ahead because it is easy to reheat. It can also be frozen.
Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2013 in Recipe

 

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Super Easy, Super Tasty: Sugared Cranberries

Sparkling cranberries; drying before storing.

My friend Kim brought a bowl of these to a potluck at my house once and I immediately had to have the recipe! Turns out they are very easy – with a little patience** – and they look just beautiful! I would say they are too beautiful to eat, but it would be wrong of me to deny you the chance to pop these little orbs of sweet-tart goodness into your mouth!

I’ve made them several times since Kim shared her recipe and – as I always do with recipes – tried out some variations. Some worked, some didn’t!

What didn’t work: Using coarse, colored sugar. I thought the larger crystals would be pretty on the berries, but it turns out that they kinda melt and just look crusty (and not a good kind of crusty!)

What did work: I poured my ultra-fine baker’s sugar (I found it in the baking aisle in a milk carton-like container) into a Tupperware container and put a couple of vanilla beans in with it for several days to give the sugar a vanilla riff. The sugar with beans is still in my cupboard and I am looking forward to making the cranberries with it to see if the vanilla is stronger! Turns out, this is pretty much how they make vanilla powder for coffee shops (also good in pie crusts!)

**Regarding patience: the cranberries have to soak in the sugar liquid for at least 8 hours, so you need to plan ahead. This is not a spur-of-the-moment recipe! It is important to make sure you do not boil the cranberries – they will pop, if boiled, and will not make a very pretty treat. They need to dry for an hour before storing – try not to eat them all before they are dry!

Now, you could make a batch of these and sit in a corner, eating them all yourself, but that would not be in the spirit of the holiday season. Bring them as a hostess gift in a pretty tin, set them in a crystal bowl alongside your appetizer platters, toss a handful onto a plate of turkey or eat them while watching a movie with your family! There is no wrong time for sugared cranberries!

 
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Posted by on November 20, 2011 in Recipe

 

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Bleu Cheese Burgers

Here they are before grilling. After grilling, they were grabbed and eaten so no pictures!

In the Pacific Northwest, with our propane grill on a covered porch, we can and do grill year ’round. One of the family favorites is my Bleu Cheese Burgers. I like my burgers lean, but extra lean ground beef with only 3-4% fat can get you a pretty dry burger, so I add a different kind of fat -bleu cheese – to the mixture and it is not only moist, but very flavorful.

To 1 1/3 lb. extra lean ground beef, I add 1 tbl. Worcestershire sauce, 1/3 c dried onion, ground pepper, 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1/3-1/2 c crumbled bleu cheese (in the refrigerated deli section at the grocery store). I don’t add salt as the cheese adds some saltiness and it is easy to over-do. Mix the ingredients well and divide into 4 equal portions to make 4 1/3 pound burgers. I use the large Tupperware hamburger press so they are pretty uniform (and I don’t get raw ground beef under my finger nails – ew!) We grilled these to a “medium well” and served them on potato buns with an assortment of condiments – including spinach for crunch and the veggie factor.

 
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Posted by on October 30, 2011 in 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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Super Easy: Crispy Fruit “Pudding”

Crispy Peach "Pudding"

Once in a while, you come across a recipe that is not only easy, it is versatile and so tasty that it always garners compliments. I found this in a Family Circle magazine about a zillion years ago… Originally called “Crispy Berry Pudding,” it was made with strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, but I soon discovered that just about any fruit combination would work well in this dessert. Click on the highlighted text for the recipe. Some of the fruits I’ve tried: apples and cranberries, rhubarb (with and without another fruit) and peaches – pictured here. The only fruit that I didn’t care for was plums – and maybe it was because we had “prune” plums. I also can’t imagine it would work with citrus fruits, but if you try it and it works, let me know! I have no idea why it is referred to as a “pudding” – perhaps it is a British thing…?

A Few Tips:

  • If you are using orchard fruits – such as peaches, apples or pears – be sure to peel them as a part of the preparation.

    Ready to bake! See? Not stirred!

  • Melt the butter in your baking dish while preparing the fruit, but keep an eye on it! You want it to be just melted, not browned.
  • The most important thing to remember when assembling the pudding is Do Not Stir. You will pour batter (which, yes, you have stirred, but that is a different step!) over the melted butter and then pour the fruit over the batter. No stirring!
  • I use a 3 qt. dish so there is plenty of room for juices to bubble without boiling over. This is probably my most used baking dish! If you wish, you can put it on a baking sheet or some foil to avoid a nasty boiled fruit clean up in your oven until you are sure of the recipe.
  • Watch the baking time the first few times you try the recipe. I recently got a different oven and find that I don’t have to bake it the whole hour as I did in my old oven. The pudding pictured at the top of this post was baked for 40 minutes.
  • Optional Ingredients: Add a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg to the fruit, along with the sugar. You could also sprinkle with chopped nuts before baking.

As Autumn blows wildly in, I am looking forward to making this dessert with apples and cranberries!

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2011 in 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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