Monday, November 26, 2007

Cheddar Rice Fritters

These things are very rich. Very tasty, but wow... rich. Make them as an appetizer, because you won't be able to eat more than few. Still, they're a great way to use up leftover rice.

2 cups wild rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 Tbsp. butter
2 scallions, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Vegetable oil

If using leftover rice, microwave till piping hot. If using fresh rice, use immediately. Stir in cheese, butter, and onions. Cool.

Combine cooled rice mix with beaten egg.

In a separate pan, combine bread crumbs with salt and pepper (to taste).

Working in small batches, drop rounded tablespoonfuls of rice mixture into bread crumbs, rolling to coat and knocking off excess, then transfer to a tray. Refrigerate for 5 minutes, or until the cheese firms up.

Heat 1 1/2 inches oil in a 4-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until it registers 365°F on thermometer, then fry fritters in 4 batches, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes per batch. Transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Return oil to 365°F between batches.

--Adapted from

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Wild Rice Pancakes

2 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup scallions
2 cups wild rice mix, cooked (or leftover from the day before)
Tabasco (optional)

Whisk together the milk and eggs. Add flour, and whisk until smooth. Add rice, scallions, salt/pepper/Tabasco to taste. Stir to combine.

Drop the rice mixture on a preheated non-stick griddle, using a 1/4 cup measure. Leave plenty of room as the pancakes will spread when cooked. Cook one minute, then flip. Cook an additional minute.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

This makes enough to feed an army. You'll need to use a punch bowl, as opposed to a trifle dish. This dessert is a regular at holiday meals.

2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
1 (5.1-ounce) box instant vanilla pudding mix
1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon or Chinese 5-spice
2 (12-ounce) containers frozen whipped topping
1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional

Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely.

Prepare the pudding per package directions. Before the pudding sets up, stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cinnamon into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Refrigerate overnight.

Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired.

--Adapted from Paula Dean

Orange-Cranberry Veloute

For extra flavor, try stirring in turkey drippings. Just make sure to adjust the salt.

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. flour
2/3 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 can cranberry sauce (whole berry or not, your choice)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add flour, and whisk to form a thick roux. Cook until the roux begins to brown.

Whisking constantly, add the orange juice and chicken broth. Bring to a boil, and reduce 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper.

Whisk in cranberry sauce. Bring back to a boil, and reduce 5 minutes until the sauce is thick.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Citrus Marinated Mushrooms

These have a strong sesame flavor if you make them as the recipe suggests. Still, the citrus gives them a bright, clean flavor that goes well with a main dish. The brine that the mushrooms marinate in is fantastic as a salad dressing - maybe even better than the mushrooms themselves. We served these over a bed of mixed greens and leftover steamed asparagus, with a few spoonfuls of the brine. Incredibly tasty.

1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon grated orange rind
2 teaspoons extravirgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
1 pound mushrooms, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Combine first 7 ingredients in a bowl. Microwave 2 minutes, or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool slightly. Stir in orange rind, oils, and lime rind. Combine vinegar mixture and mushrooms in a large bowl; toss well to combine. Cover; refrigerate overnight (though 48 hours wouldn't be bad, these get better the longer they sit). Add parsley; toss to combine.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Bourbon Salmon

This is a great salmon recipe. It goes together quickly and easily. It would be great to serve to a larger group, since you cook it with the marinade. Just dump in a skillet and go. I made this with the bourbon, but I bet it would be good with amaretto (or any other sweet cordial). The sauce is thin, but sticky, and great to serve over rice.

3 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons bourbon
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
Cooking spray
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add fish to bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 1/2 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add fish and marinade to pan; cook fish 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness.

Place 1 fillet on each of 4 plates; drizzle each serving with about 2 teaspoons sauce. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions and 3/4 teaspoon sesame seeds.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Tiramisu Pie

This is a family favorite. While it is possible to substitute cream cheese for the mascarpone - don't. Cream cheese is just too strong.

1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
3/4 cup warm water
1 (10.75-ounce) frozen pound cake, thawed
1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone or cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup chocolate syrup
1 tablespoons Kahlua
1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed and divided
2 (1.4-ounce) English toffee candy bars, coarsely chopped

Stir together coffee and 3/4 cup warm water until coffee is dissolved. Cool (or you can use espresso).

Cut cake into 14 slices. Cut each slice in half diagonally. Place triangles in bottom and up sides of a 9-inch deep-dish pieplate. Drizzle coffee mixture over cake.

Beat mascarpone cheese, sugar, Kahlua, and chocolate syrup at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 2 1/2 cups whipped topping, and beat until light and fluffy.Spread cheese mixture evenly over cake. Dollop remaining whipped topping around edges of pie. Sprinkle with candy. Chill 8 hours.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Skewers

2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Thai chile paste
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips, or 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 8 hours.

Prepare grill. Remove chicken from bag, and discard marinade. Thread chicken strips onto 18 (8-inch) skewers. Place kebabs on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 minutes on each side or until done.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Green Rice

So this is another that isn't really a veggie. But I don't care.

1 cup dry rice
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 pound spinach leaves, deveined and coarsely chopped
4 scallions, coarsely chopped
2 limes, zested, juiced

Heat 1 1/2 cups broth in a sauce pot with a bay leaf to boiling. Add rice, cover pot, reduce heat to low and simmer 18 minutes until tender.

Place the cilantro, spinach, scallions, lime zest, half a cup of stock and a tablespoon of oil in food processor and process into coarse green paste. Stir into the rice pot in the last 3 to 4 minutes of its cooking time.

--Adapted from Rachel Ray

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Creamy Sweet Potato Soup

This is a thick and rich soup. It's not as sweet as you might think, but is very hearty. The best part is, if you use a stick blender, the whole thing can be done in one bowl in the microwave. The bright color makes it perfectly suitable to serve while entertaining, and it won't take up valuable burner space. It also doesn't require any attention while the microwave is humming away, so you're free to spend that time on something else.

2 cups (1/4-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced leek (about 1 medium)
1 1/4 cups fat-free chicken broth, divided
2/3 cup evaporated skim milk
1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
Dash of white pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
Chopped leek (optional)

Combine sweet potato, sliced leek, and 1/4 cup broth in a 1 1/2-quart casserole; stir well. Cover, and microwave at HIGH 10 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes.

Place sweet potato mixture in a food processor (or use a stick blender); process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients except chopped leek; process 30 seconds or until blended.

Garnish with chopped leek, if desired. Serve warm.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Stuffed Baked Potatoes with Corn and Sour Cream

A stuffed baked potato is always a great side dish. This is a flavorful version that isn't nearly as heavy as one stuffed full of butter and cheese.

4 medium baking potatoes
1/4 cup bottled salsa
1/4 cup sour cream (more if you want)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 cup finely chopped jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (16 oz.) bag frozen corn, cooked
1 garlic clove, minced
sour cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 375°. Pierce potatoes with a fork, and bake at 375° for 1 hour or until tender.

Cool potatoes slightly. Scoop out potatoes, leaving the skins intact. In a separate bowl, combine potato, salsa, and sour cream. Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine cumin seeds and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) in a medium bowl; stir well. Spoon the potato mixture back into the skins. Top each potato half with 1/4 cup corn mixture. Garnish with sour cream.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

I'm taking the traditional Southern approach to this and calling it a vegetable. And this stuff puts most of the stuff they serve in restaurants who do the same to shame. This stuff is rich. It's really a bit excessive. However, when you are in the mood, excessive is a food thing.

Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
4 cups milk
2 or 3 sprigs thyme
4 cloves garlic, smashed and divided
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
5 1/2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar (or whatever cheese you like)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into thin strips
1/2 cup green onions (mostly the white parts)
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Leaves from 1/4 bunch fresh thyme

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the macaroni and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, until al dente. Drain.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a small saucepan heat the milk with the thyme sprigs and 2 garlic cloves. Melt the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly, to keep lumps from forming. Strain the solids out of the milk and whisk it into the butter and flour mixture. Continue to whisk vigorously, and cook until the mixture is nice and smooth.

Stir in the 4 cups of the cheese and continue to cook and stir to melt the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni and the parsley and fold that all in to coat the macaroni with the cheese mixture. Scrape into a 3-quart baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 cups cheese. Bake for 30 minutes, or until hot and bubbly (45 minutes if you like the crust)

While that bakes, heat a saute pan. Add the bacon, render the fat and cook until crispy. Add the green onion, garlic and thyme leaves and cook for about 5 minutes to soften the onion. Season with salt and pepper.

To serve, scatter the bacon mixture over the mac and cheese. Use a big spoon to scoop out servings, making sure you get some of the smoking bacon mixture on each spoonful.

--Adapted from Tyler Florence

Monday, November 5, 2007

Ham and Potato Frittata

Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes (such as Ore-Ida)
1/2 cup green onion, sliced thin
1/3 cup diced Canadian bacon (about 2 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 Tabasco
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
4 large eggs
4 large egg whites (or 1 cup of pre-separated egg whites)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded smoked cheddar or smoked mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a 10-inch nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add potatoes, onion, and bacon; saute 8 minutes or until potatoes are golden brown. Remove from pan.

Wipe pan clean with paper towels; recoat with cooking spray. Combine salt, hot sauce, pepper, eggs, and egg whites in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Stir in potato mixture, cheese, and chopped green onions.

Heat pan over medium heat. Pour in egg mixture. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook 3 minutes or until bottom is lightly browned, lifting edges and tilting skillet as eggs cook to allow uncooked portion to flow underneath cooked portion. Wrap handle of pan with foil. Bake 8-10 minutes or until top is lightly browned and set. Garnish with green onion strips, if desired.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Hot and Sour Pork

This is great recipe. It has a perfect level of spice, it's cheap to make, and it cooks in a flash. What more could you want?

1 (1-pound) boneless pork chops, trimmed and cut into strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon Sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
12 cups coarsely chopped green cabbage (about 2 pounds)
1/3 cup chopped green onions

Combine pork, 1 teaspoon cornstarch, white pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl; set aside.

Combine remaining 2 teaspoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine ketchup and next 3 ingredients (through soy sauce) in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork mixture and garlic; sauté 2 minutes. Remove pork from pan; set aside.

Add cabbage; sauté 2 minutes.

Add ketchup mixture; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in pork; sauté 1 minute. Stir in cornstarch mixture; cook 30 seconds or until thick.

Remove from heat; stir in onions.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Chopstick Noodle Soup

This is a great recipe to use up leftovers. While I didn't use any meat, you wouldn't go wrong with some adding some grilled chicken, steak, or salmon. The same is true of the vegetables. I used what I had on hand.

6 ounces udon or soba noodles (dried, from a packet)
3 cups chicken or vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon 5-spice
1 teaspoon minced ginger
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3/4 cup bean sprouts
3/4 cup sugar snaps
3/4 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced carrots
2 heads baby bok choy, finely sliced (or left in large leaves if you like that look)

2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

Cook the noodles according to packet instructions and while the water is boiling fill a nearby saucepan with stock, brown sugar, 5-spice, ginger and soy sauce. (When the noodles are done, just drain them and put half in each bowl.)

When the flavored stock comes to a boil, add the vegetables. They should be cooked in about 2 minutes

Pour half into each bowl, over the cooked and drained noodles and sprinkle with cilantro.

--Adapted from Nigella Lawson

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Chocolate Cupcakes

This are some fantastic cupcakes. They are fluffy and light, which is a perfect compliment to the heavy ganache glaze.

1 pkg. (18.25 oz.) chocolate cake mix
1 pkg. (4 oz.) chocolate instant pudding and pie filling mix
1 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 container (8 oz.) sour cream
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water or coffee

Preheat the oven to 350*F (180*C). Line cupcake pans with 18 to 20 paper liners. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cake mix, cocoa powder, sour cream, oil, water or coffee, eggs, and vanilla with an electric mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes.

Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pans, filling each cupcake liner three-quarters full.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out clean.
Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then remove cupcakes and cool completely on wire racks.


16 oz. bittersweet chocolate
8 oz. heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Microwave cream for 3-4 minutes or until just simmering. Add chocolate, let stand 2 minutes.

Stir until t
he chocolate is smooth. While the chocolate is still warm, dip the cupcakes to coat. By the time you have finished all of them, the first should be hard enough to dip again.

Repeat as many times as you like.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Spicy Pinapple Sauce

This is an Alton Brown recipe which really shines. It's a great dessert sauce. While he recommends ice cream, I prefer pound cake. It's good on pretty much anything.

1 can pineapple chunks, undrained
1 habanero pepper, minced
4 fresh mint leaves, cut into chiffonade

In a small saucepan, combine pineapple chunks and habanero pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Cool thoroughly. Garnish with mint.

Serve pineapple salsa over ice cream.

--Adapted from Alton Brown

Pineapple-Jalapeno Cranberry Sauce

This is a great twist on the usual Thanksgiving dish. It really shines, however, on turkey sandwiches the next day. All the sugar in the pineapple really cuts the heat, and just leaves a nice pepper flavor. If you like heat, add Tabasco or use a spicier pepper.

1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
1 can crushed pineapple, well-drained
1 jalapeno chile, minced (seeded if you want to reduce the heat)
2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. lemon juice
Tabasco sauce, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste.

Mix everything together. Let stand for at least an hour.