Sunday, October 28, 2007

All Purpose Grilling Marinade

This makes a great marinade for pork chops/tenderloin or chicken breasts.

2 tsp. dried thyme leaves
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground cloves (or Chinese 5 spice)
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

Stir together ingredients; rub onto meat. Allow to marinate overnight.


--Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook

Bean and Sausage Stew

This is a quick stew that tastes like it took a long time to make. If you want to make this spicy, try using a can of Rotel tomatoes in place of the diced tomatoes.

tablespoon olive oil
1 16-ounce package smoked sausage links, sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 19-ounce can white beans, drained
1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. prewashed spinach
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Crusty bread (optional)

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, without stirring, until browned, about 3 minutes. Turn, add the garlic, and cook for 2 minutes more. Add the beans, broth, and tomatoes and their juices. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a simmer.

Add the spinach to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with the salt and pepper and spoon into individual bowls. Serve with the bread (if using).

--Adapted from Real Simple magazine

Beef and Spinach Pita Pockets

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 10-ounce package sliced mushrooms
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 pound ground beef
1/4 cup brandy
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3/4 cup (3 ounces) grated Parmesan
4 pitas (white or whole wheat), warmed
1/4 cup mayonnaise (optional)

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of the pepper and cook for 3 minutes. Add the beef and cook until no trace of pink remains, 5 to 6 minutes. Spoon off and discard any fat. Add the brandy and cook, stirring, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook until heated through, about 1 1/2 minutes. Season with the remaining salt and pepper. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan.

Cut a 2-inch strip off the side of each pita and pull open. Spread the inside with the mayonnaise (if using). Fill each pita with the beef and mushroom mixture.

--Adapted from Real Simple magazine

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Crooks Corner Shrimp and Grits

Crooks Corner is one of the best restaurants in Chapel Hill, and has a special place in my heart. This is the recipe for their signature dish, as printed in Southern Living.

2 cups water
1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
3/4 cup half-and-half
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup regular grits
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
3 bacon slices
1 pound medium-size shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped green onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
Lemon wedges

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually whisk in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until thickened. Add Cheddar cheese and next 4 ingredients. Keep warm.

Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

Sprinkle shrimp with pepper and salt; dredge in flour.

Sauté mushrooms in hot drippings in skillet 5 minutes or until tender. Add green onions, and sauté 2 minutes. Add shrimp and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes or until shrimp are lightly brown. Stir in chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce, and cook 2 more minutes, stirring to loosen particles from bottom of skillet.

Serve shrimp mixture over hot cheese grits. Top with crumbled bacon; serve with lemon wedges.

--Adapted from Bill Neal and Southern Living magazine

Sun-Dried Tomato Mixed Bean Salad

This is another great potluck/tailgate dish. It's best at room temp. The recipe makes enough to feed an army.

1 (8-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomato halves
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15.8-ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup green onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Drain sun-dried tomatoes in a sieve over a bowl, reserving oil. Place 1/4 cup reserved oil in a medium bowl. Return the remaining oil to sun-dried tomato jar; reserve for another use. Chop drained tomatoes; place in a large bowl. Add parsley and next 6 ingredients (through onion) to chopped tomatoes, and stir gently to combine.

Add vinegar and remaining ingredients to 1/4 cup reserved oil, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle over bean mixture; toss gently to coat. Cover and chill.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Best BBQ Chicken

The name says it all.

2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
6 (4-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
Cooking spray

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ketchup and next 4 ingredients (ketchup through hot sauce); bring to a boil. Partially cover, and cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 15 minutes), stirring often.

Prepare grill.

Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill 12 minutes or until done, turning and basting with 1/3 cup sauce after 8 minutes; serve with remaining 1/3 cup sauce.

-- Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hoisin Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

I have to confess that I made this without the chicken. I went straight veggie. It's pretty good. It has a nice light sweetness that is very tasty, without the bold statement that soy sauce makes. If you have any leftover rice, you can toss that in to cook for the last minute. If you wanted to use other leftover raw veggies, this would be a great way to use them.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Cooking spray
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons dry sherry
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
2 teaspoons bottled minced fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 pound chicken breast tenders
2 cups broccoli florets
8 oz sliced mushrooms
1 red bell pepper, sliced thin
1 cup shredded carrot

Heat vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Combine broth and the next 7 ingredients (broth through sesame oil). Add chicken to pan, and sauté 2 minutes. Add broccoli, mushrooms, and peppers; sauté 5 minutes. Add carrots, and sauté 2 minutes. Add broth mixture, and cook 1 1/2 minutes or until sauce is slightly thick, stirring constantly.

Serve over rice.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Spicy Orange Beef

This is a great alternative to traditional beef stew. It's sweet, with a subtle orange flavor. As listed, the dish has a noticeable level of heat, but it is not spicy. If you want more, you can add more.

2 teaspoons peanut oil
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 orange, zested
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 1/2 cups (1-inch-thick) slices carrot
1 1/2 pounds lean beef stew meat
1 cup water
1/2 cup fat-free low-salt beef broth
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (orange-flavored liqueur)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon orange marmalade
3 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups hot cooked rice
green onions, sliced thin

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chiles, zest, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until garlic is lightly browned. Add carrot and beef; sauté 1 minute. Stir in 1 cup water, broth, soy sauce, Grand Marnier, and honey; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour and 10 minutes or until beef is tender, stirring occasionally.

Add marmalade. Combine 3 tablespoons water and cornstarch, stirring well with a whisk. Add cornstarch mixture to beef mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until thick, stirring constantly. Garnish with a wedge of orange and green onions

Serve with rice.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Monday, October 22, 2007

Party Sangria

1 orange, sliced
1 lime, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
1 1/2 cups simple syrup
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 cup lime juice
1 bottle red wine

In a large pitcher, combine the fruit. Muddle. Add the rest of the ingredients, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Serve over ice with fruit garnish.

--Adapted from D. Clougherty

Broccoli Casserole

2 boxes frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained completely
1 Tbsp. mayo
1/2 can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup mild cheddar cheese
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
1 lb. ground beef
1 egg
salt and pepper (to taste)

24 saltine crackers, crushed
1/2 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown hamburger; drain. Combine the mayo, mushroom soup, and egg; stir till thoroughly mixed. Combine broccoli, ground beef, cheese and soup mixture.

In a separate bowl, combine the butter and crackers.

Top casserole with crackers. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, or until crackers are golden brown.

Best Baked Beans

These are the best baked beans I've ever had. No question.

1 lb. ground beef
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. white vinegar
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 can (16 oz) pork 'n' beans
1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat oven to 350.

Brown ground beef; drain. Add the rest of the ingredients into an oven safe dish. Bake at 350 for at least 30 minutes.

--Adapted from Rita Willett

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Backyard Sesame Chicken

Sesame Chicken Marinade

1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 T. instant minced onion
2 T.sesame seeds
1 T. sugar
1 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. instant minced garlic
1/8 t. ground red pepper
1 lb. chicken tenders

Combine ingredients. Mix well. Marinate chicken in refrigerator
at least 12 hours, turning occasionally.

Grill for 8-10 minutes over medium-high heat, or until juices
run clear.

Catalina Chicken and Pepper Lollipops

Great easy recipe that scales up to feed a crowd. As written, this will feed about 4.

1 bottle Catalina Dressing
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Tabasco sauce (optional)
1 lb. chicken tenderloins
1 red bell pepper
6-8 slices of bacon

Mix the dressing, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and Tabasco sauce (to taste, if desired) in a large zip-top plastic bag. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces; add chicken to marinade. Marinate 8 hours to overnight.

If using wood or bamboo skewers, soak for at least 30 minutes prior to grilling.

Cut the bacon pieces in half; Chop the pepper into large chunks. Thread a piece of the pepper onto the skewer. Wrap each chicken piece in bacon, and thread onto the skewer.

Grill skewers 6-8 minutes over medium high heat, or until juices run clear.

--Adapted from Janice Pierce

Sausage Balls

Traditional Southern snack.

1 lb. hot country sausage (like Neese's)
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
3 cups Bisquick

Preheat oven to 350.

Blend the ingredients together by hand until the Bisquick is completely incorporated. Roll into golf ball sized balls.

Bake for 15 minutes.

Tailgate Oyster Crackers

These are a great snack for any event. Believe me, they are addictive. Once you have one, you'll find yourself drifting by the bowl again and again.

3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 pkg dry Ranch dressing mix
1 Tbsp. dried dill
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 bag oyster crackers

Place oyster crackers in a container with an air-tight lid. Stir together first four ingredients, and pour over crackers. Shake to ensure even coating. Over the next day, shake occasionally. These crackers are best once they've sat for a few days, and the flavors have had time to meld.

-- Adapted from Jan Cheek

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Snow Peas with Lemon and Toasted Almonds

Sugar Snap peas are equally delicious in this.

1 cup water
2 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 teaspoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Bring water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add peas; cook 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain peas in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1 teaspoon cooking water.

Combine peas, reserved cooking water, butter, and lemon zest, tossing gently to combine. Sprinkle with almonds, salt, and pepper; toss gently to combine.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Spicy Sweet Potato Wedges

These are a good twist on normal oven fries. I like to use chipotle powder, as I think the smokiness adds a nice touch. But I like things spicy. It might be a bit much for some.

4 sweet potatoes
cooking spray
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Preheat oven to 500.

Peel potatoes, cut each lengthwise into strips. Place potatoes in a bowl, coat with cooking spray sugar mixture. Toss to evenly coat.

Arrange potatoes in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with non-stick aluminum foil.

Bake for 8 minutes, turn, bake for another 8 minutes.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Rice, Asparagus, and Cheese Frittata

This is a great way to use leftover rice and veggies. It doesn't have to be made with the asparagus, that's just how I made it.

2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 large eggs
Cooking spray
1 cup (1-inch) slices asparagus (about 1/4 pound)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine first 4 ingredients, stirring well with a whisk; set aside.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add asparagus and garlic, and sauté 2 minutes. Add onions, and sauté 1 minute or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add rice; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Reduce heat to medium. Pat mixture into an even layer in pan; sprinkle with cheese. Pour egg mixture over rice mixture; cook 4 minutes or until almost set.

Wrap handle of pan with foil; bake 4 minutes or until golden brown and set.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Soba Noodles with Shrimp

This is a great recipe for precooked frozen shrimp. This recipe is great when served immediately or when chilled and served the next day.

4 ounces uncooked soba (buckwheat) noodles
6 cups water
1 cup shredded carrot
2 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 cup chopped cooked shrimp (about 3 ounces)
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add noodles; cook 4 minutes. Add carrot to noodles in pan; cook 2 minutes or until noodles are done. Drain.

Combine vinegar, oil, soy sauce, garlic sauce, and sugar in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add noodle mixture, shrimp, onions, and cilantro; toss to coat. Cover and chill.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Salmon with Sweet-and-Sour Pan Sauce

Serve this dish in a bowl with plenty of rice. If you don't want to saute the salmon, you can roast it (see Indian Spiced Salmon on this blog).

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/4 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

Combine broth and next 5 ingredients (broth through garlic).

Increase heat to medium-high, and heat 3 minutes.

While pan heats, sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper. Add fillets to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fillets from pan.

Drain fat from pan, and discard fat. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Serve sauce over fish.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Skillet Stuffed Peppers

There isn't much skill or skillet involved in this recipe. It's very tasty and very easy.

2 large green bell peppers, halved lengthwise and seeded
Cooking spray
3/4 pound ground round
1/2 cup water
1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (20-ounce) package refrigerated mashed potatoes (such as Simply Potatoes)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Place the bell pepper halves, cut sides down, on a microwave-safe dish; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at HIGH 3 minutes and 30 seconds or until pepper halves are crisp-tender. Let stand, covered, 3 minutes (peppers will soften).

While the peppers cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add beef to pan; cook 3 minutes, stirring to crumble. Add water and seasoning, and stir to combine. Cover, reduce heat, and cook 5 minutes or until done.

While beef cooks and peppers stand, cook the potatoes in microwave according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.

Spoon 1/2 cup beef mixture into each pepper half; top each with 2/3 cup potatoes. Sprinkle each pepper half with 1 tablespoon cheese. Garnish with black pepper, if desired.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Sweet Glazed Carrots

Using the carrot chips (you can find them on the produce aisle with the rest of the carrots - they are nothing more than crinkle cut raw carrots) makes this dish a snap.

2 cups carrot chips
1/2 cup Catalina dressing
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp. dried parsley

Cook carrots in boiling water in saucepan until crisp-tender; drain. Return to pan.

Add dressing, sugar, Worcestershire sauce; stir until evenly coated. Cook on low heat 5 minutes, or until sugar is completely meleted and carrots are evenly glazed, stirring frequently.

Add parsely during last minute of cooking.

--Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

Cream Cheese Bacon Crescents

These go fast. You might want to make two batches. Or three. These are also perfect finger food for any social gathering from wedding/baby showers to birthday parties.

1 tub (8 oz.) Chive & Onion cream cheese spread
3 slices bacon, cooked, crumbled
2 cans (8 oz. each) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls

Preheat oven to 375°F. Mix cream cheese spread and bacon in small bowl until well blended.

Separate each can of dough into 8 triangles each. Cut each triangle in half lengthwise. Spread each dough triangle with 1 generous tsp. cream cheese mixture. Roll up, starting at shortest side of triangle and rolling to opposite point. Place, point sides down, on ungreased baking sheet.

Bake 12 to 15 min. or until golden brown. Serve warm.

--Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

Molten Chocolate Cakes

4 squares semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup powdered sugar
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
6 Tbsp. flour
1/2 cup thawed Cool Whip

Preheat oven to 425°F. Butter four 3/4-cup custard cups or soufflé dishes. Place on baking sheet (See below for muffin cup instructions).

Microwave chocolate and butter in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1 min. or until butter is melted. Stir with wire whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Stir in sugar until well blended. Blend in eggs and egg yolks with wire whisk. Stir in flour. Divide batter among prepared custard cups.

Bake 13 to 14 min. or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Carefully run small knife around cakes to loosen. Invert cakes onto dessert dishes. Serve immediately, topped with whipped topping.

How to to Bake Cakes in Muffin Cups:
Prepare batter as directed; pour evenly among nine well-greased medium muffin cups. Bake at 425ºF for 7 min. or until sides are firm but centers are soft. Let stand 1 min. Loosen cakes and remove from pan as directed.

--Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

Mini Meatloaves

You can't beat this for quick and easy. No point in fussing about meatloaf if you don't have to, from my point-of-view. The individual portion sizes keep from eating too much, and they slice up great for sandwiches the next day.

1 lb. ground beef
1 (6 oz.) pkg Stove Top stuffing
1 cup of water
1 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
3/4 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375.

Mix meat, stuffing mix, water and garlic powder until well blended. Press evenly into 12 muffin cups sprayed with cooking spray.

Make an indentation in the top of each with a spoon and add the BBQ sauce.

Bake 30 minutes or until meatloaves are cooked through. Top each with cheese, and return to to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

--Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

Oreo Truffles

These are fantastic. They are easy, but it does take a while to roll them all out, and coat them all with chocolate. While you can eat them right away, let them sit for a day in the fridge so that the flavors can meld and the chocolate can harden.

1 pkg. (1 lb., 2 oz.) Oreo cookies, divided
1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) semi-sweet baking chocolate, melted

Crush 9 of the cookies to fine crumbs in food processor; reserve for later use. (Cookies can also be finely crushed in a resealable plastic bag using a rolling pin.) Crush remaining 36 cookies to fine crumbs; place in medium bowl. Add cream cheese; mix until well blended. Roll cookie mixture into 42 balls, about 1-inch in diameter.
Dip truffles in chocolate; place on wax paper-covered baking sheet. (Any leftover chocolate can be stored at room temperature for another use.) Sprinkle with reserved cookie crumbs or with cocoa powder.
Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Store leftover truffles, covered, in refrigerator.

-- Adapted from Kraft Food and Family

Pork Medallions with Balsalmic-Honey Glaze

This recipe is also a great way to cook those thin boneless pork chops that are always on sale. Serve with couscous, rice, or potato cakes - you'll want something to catch the tasty sauce.

For the balsamic-honey glaze:
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pork:
1 3/4 to 2 pounds pork tenderloin
Canola oil, for searing

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Make the glaze: Put garlic and rosemary in a small bowl. Add the vinegar, honey, olive oil, mustard, and salt and pepper, to taste, and stir to combine.

For the pork: Slice the tenderloin into 1-inch thick medallions (rounds). Cover the bottom of a medium skillet with a light film of canola oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot. Add the pork slices in 1 layer, season with salt and pepper, and sear for 1 minute. Turn and sear for 1 more minute, until lightly browned. Transfer the slices in 1 layer to a shallow baking dish (or just use an oven-proof skillet from the beginning).

Pour the glaze over the slices and turn them to coat.

Roast for 8 to 10 minutes, until a thermometer inserted reaches 140 degrees F for medium. Remove from the oven and keep warm, loosely covered until ready to serve.

To serve place pork medallions on a platter and spoon the balsamic-honey glaze over them.

--Adapted from Amanda Cushman and Sara Moulton

Stir Fry Sauce

This is a perfect recipe for when you need a quick dinner. You can stop by the grocery store salad bar, and pick up all the ingredients you need. I usually use carrots, broccoli, mushrooms, bell pepper, and anything else that looks good. A pound of prepped vegetables goes a long way in this recipe. If you want something heartier, you can mix in any protein (tofu, chicken, beef, shrimp).

I like this sauce over bottled sauces because you have more control over the ingredients. I almost always have all of these things on hand, so I just don't see the need to keep a bottle of store-bought sauce.

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup ketchup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced green onion

In a wok, stir-fry vegetables over high heat for 4-6 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add sauce, and cook for 3 minutes more.

--Adapted from Kathleen Daelemans

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

This recipe generates more requests than any other. Everybody wants to know what's in it, and how to make it. It is such a unique twist to traditional sweet potatoes. I usually make it year-round to serve with with ham, but it is great for Thanksgiving as well. Give it a try.

If you are taking this somewhere, you can assemble each of the pieces and combine right before serving. This dish is great at room temp. It's a staple at potlucks.

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped scallions (green and white)
1 cup julienned roasted red pepper (or use fresh for more crunch)

6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/3 cup orange marmalade chutney
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup olive oil

Make the Salad: Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a roasting pan, combine the potatoes, 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, rosemary, salt, pepper, cumin and ginger. Stir to combine and bake until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, about 25 to 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the cranberries, scallions, and red pepper and set aside.

Make the Dressing: Prepare the dressing by combining all the ingredients (except for the olive oil) in a small saucepan and heat. Remove from heat and whisk in the olive oil.
Assemble salad by gently tossing the roasted potatoes with the red pepper mixture. Add enough of the dressing to coat and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with extra dressing on the side.

--Adapted from Devon Delaney and Sara Moulton

Sausage Apple Cornbread

I've always wondered how this recipe would perform if made into muffins, rather than in a casserole. Maybe some day I'll find out. Until then, this is a great dish. It's great to make and take to breakfast potlucks, as it doesn't have to be piping hot to still be tasty.

1 lb. block country sausage
4 to 5 tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
1 (7 1/2-ounce) package yellow cornbread mix, batter prepared according to package directions
1 cup maple syrup, for serving

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Cook sausage in a skillet until done, crumbling it as much as possible. Drain and then arrange in a 9-inch square baking dish. Layer sliced apples on top. Pour corn bread batter over all and bake for approximately 30 minutes or until corn bread is done. Serve with warm maple syrup.

--Adapted from Paula Dean

Scallion and Egg Tortillas

The Missus and I seem to have breakfast foods for dinner on a regular basis. I'm fine with that, as there too many tasty things to be contained to one meal alone. That said, I'm not sure this qualifies as breakfast food.

1 tablespoon light oil, plus some to drizzle
4 scallions cut into 1-inch lengths
4 eggs beaten
4 large plain flour tortillas

Heat a large nonstick skillet over high heat with 1 tablespoon oil. When the oil smokes, add scallions and sear them, crisping them at edges and charring the greens, 2 minutes. Pull pan from heat and add egg mixture seasoned with salt. Toss and scramble the eggs, putting the pan back over the heat briefly if necessary, then remove eggs to a plate. Wipe pan clean and add a drizzle of oil to skillet and a tortilla. Blister the tortilla, 30 seconds, turn it and add 1/4 of the scallions and eggs to top the tortilla. Fold the tortilla into quarters and crisp the outsides then remove, repeat with remaining ingredients. Serve immediately.

--Adapted from Rachel Ray

Red Wine Beef Stew with Potatoes and Green Beans

This is a pretty good beef stew recipe. I abhor white onions, but if you like them, the original recipe called for 3 diced onions. I feel sick just typing that.

2 pounds beef chuck for stew, cut into 1-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
4 medium carrots, peeled, halved and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans reduced-sodium beef or chicken broth
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup canned crushed tomatoes
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 medium russet or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 handfuls green beans, ends trimmed

Season the beef cubes lightly with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. As soon as the butter starts to turn brown, add half the beef and raise the heat to high. At first, the beef will give off some liquid, but once that evaporates, the beef will start to brown. Cook, turning the beef cubes on all sides until the pieces are as evenly browned as possible, about 5 or 6 minutes after the water has boiled off. If the pan starts to get too brown at any point, just turn down the heat a little. Scoop the beef into a bowl and brown the rest of the beef the same way using the remaining butter.

Scoop out the second batch of beef, then add the carrots and a splash of the wine to deglaze. Raise the heat to medium-high, and stir in the flour, adding more wine if necessary, until it the flour is completely absorbed.

Transfer the mixture to a crockpot set to high. make sure you get all of the browned bits out of the saucepan. Pour the beef broth, wine, and crushed tomatoes, and rosemary into the crockpot. Slide the beef back into the pot and simmer for at least an hour on High.

Stir the potatoes into the stew, and cook on High until the potatoes and beef are tender, stirring occasionally, about another 45 minutes. Add the beans and cook for another 5 minutes until the green beans turn bright green and are cooked through but still have a nice snap.

--Adapted from Dave Lieberman

Smothered Mushrooms and Spinach

Honestly, I no idea what the "smothering" is supposed to accomplish. This tastes the same to me whether you cover it or not. Still, I assume it does something, so I continue to follow the recipe. If you don't have the right kind of lid, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
24 small crimini mushrooms, wiped clean, halved
1 box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained completely
1/4 cup dry white wine
Salt and pepper

Heat a medium skillet with extra-virgin olive oil and butter over medium to medium-high heat. When fat is hot, add garlic and mushrooms and place a lid which is too small for the skillet down into the pan, pressing and smothering the mushrooms. Cook 7 to 8 minutes, stirring once, then add the spinach, turning it with tongs to combine with mushrooms. Smother the greens for 1 to 2 minutes, then deglaze the pan with the wine. Season the mixture with salt and pepper, to taste.

--Adapted from Rachel Ray

Roasted Brocolli

This is one of my standby dishes. It goes together in a flash, and allows you to focus on something else. There's not much to say, except that this is about as perfect as recipes come.

1 pound fresh broccoli (sorry, can't use frozen)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash and drain broccoli. Pat dry. Cut into florets. In a large bowl, toss the broccoli with the oil and salt and pepper to taste. Arrange florets in a single layer on a baking pan and roast, turning once, for 12-15 minutes, or until just tender.

Sprinkle with cheese before serving. If desired, squeeze a few wedges of fresh lemon.

Potato Cakes

This is an updated version of one of my favorite things growing up. It's simply the best way to use up mashed potatoes. These are great as a side dish standing alone, however, these have the potential to turn any meal into a special one. The potato cakes are a great base for steak, or shrimp, or anything where you might serve something like a rice pilaf. Since they look fancy, you can fool everyone into thinking you did something more than just serve them leftovers.

The best part is that if you make flavored mashed potatoes - you get flavored potato cakes! Just omit the blue cheese.

2 cups cold mashed potatoes
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs, plus extra for coating
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese (any anything else for extra flavor)
1 egg, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Panko crumbs, for dusting
1/4 cup olive oil

Combine the potatoes, bread crumbs, egg and blue cheese in a medium bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Form the mixture into eight 2-inch cakes. Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Dredge the cakes lightly in more panko crumbs. Heat the oil in a large pan or electric skillet over high heat.

Fry until golden brown.

Spicy Citrus Broccoli

I'm not sure where this recipe came from, but I know I like it. I'm not the world's biggest fan of broccoli, so I have to dress it up with all kinds of flavors. This recipe is great because it is light enough not to overpower a main dish, but it still packs a punch. Depending on your taste, you may want to use more or less pepper.

6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (not minced from a can, you have to use real garlic)
1 pound broccoli, cut into spears, lengthwise
6 ounces dry white wine
1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 lemon and 1 orange, zested

In a saute pan, heat the olive oil and garlic until just sizzling. Add the broccoli and cook, tossing regularly for 8 to 10 minutes, until the stem is tender. Use the wine to slow the cooking down if the garlic begins to brown. When the broccoli is tender, add the red pepper flakes and zests and place on a platter.

Crab Cakes with Herbed Aioli

To me, crab is one of the great wonders of the culinary world. How can an animal so fundamentally nasty taste so great? The world may never know. These crab cakes work well with canned crab, though of course, they work better with fresh. Since they are only minimally fried, they aren't heavy or greasy.


1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 teaspoons chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced

Crab cakes:
1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
1 teaspoon canola oil
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°.

To prepare aioli, combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

To prepare crab cakes, combine bell pepper and next 7 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add panko and crabmeat; toss gently. Divide the crab mixture into 12 equal portions, shaping each into a 1-inch-thick patty.

Heat oil in a large ovenproof skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add patties; cook 2 minutes. Carefully turn patties over. Place pan in oven; bake at 350° for 6 minutes.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Cavatappi with Spinach, Beans, and Asiago Cheese

Don't let the complicated name fool you. This dish couldn't be any easier, and I bet you can make it with things already in the pantry. This dish works great as a side or as a light supper.

Overall, this is one of my favorite pasta dishes.

6 cups coarsely chopped spinach leaves (or 1 large bag of prewashed spinach)
4 cups hot cooked cavatappi (about 2 cups uncooked spiral-shaped pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed though a garlic press (or just minced very fine)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Asiago cheese (I usually just use parmesan cheese)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Fresh ground black pepper (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; toss well. The heat from the pasta will wilt the spinach and melt the cheese. Sprinkle with fresh ground black pepper, if desired.

Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Baked Potato Soup

This is great hearty soup. It's thick and creamy, but doesn't take all day to cook. The soup also freezes very well.

4 baking potatoes (about 2 1/2 pounds)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces)
6 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 cup (4 ounces) reduced-fat shredded extrasharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
cup reduced-fat sour cream
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
Cracked black pepper (optional)
Tabasco sauce (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

Pierce potatoes with a fork; bake at 400° for 1 hour or until tender. Cool. Peel potatoes; coarsely mash.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flour in a large Dutch oven; gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly (about 8 minutes). Add mashed potatoes, 3/4 cup cheese, salt, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring until cheese melts. Remove from heat.

Stir in sour cream and 1/2 cup onions. Cook over low heat 10 minutes or until thoroughly heated (do not boil). Ladle 1 1/2 cups soup into each of 8 bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese, 1 1/2 teaspoons onions, and about 1 tablespoon bacon. Garnish with cracked pepper, if desired.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Cornflake-Crusted Halibut with Chile-Cilantro Aioli

Cooking Light crowned this the best fish recipe, and while I may not go that far, this is certainly top 5. The crust is crunchy without being greasy, slightly sweet without being over-powering. It goes together in a flash, and comes out pretty much perfect every time. Cod works equally well as halibut.

Serve with roasted potatoes for a great twist on fish and chips.

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 serrano chile, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup fat-free milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 cups cornflakes, finely crushed (I use a food processor)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 (6-ounce) halibut/cod fillets
4 lemon wedges

To prepare aioli, combine cilantro, mayonnaise, serrano, and minced garlic, stirring well.(this makes a fairly spicy sauce. For less heat, use a jalapeño).

To prepare fish, combine milk and egg in a shallow dish, stirring well with a whisk. Combine cornflakes, flour, salt, and black pepper in another shallow dish.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Dip fish in milk mixture, and dredge in cornflake mixture. Add fish to pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Serve fish with aioli and lemon wedges.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Shrimp Summer Rolls

These are great because you can buy the frozen already-cooked shrimp. Simply thaw and use.

Don't be intimidated by the rice paper. You will mess up the first couple, but once you get the hang of it, they come together easily. To soak the paper, I usually use a pie pin filled up with water.

1 pound medium cooked shrimp, thawed
6 ounces uncooked rice noodles
12 (8-inch) round sheets rice paper
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 cups shredded red leaf lettuce or spinach
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh basil (optional)
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh mint (optional)

Dipping sauce:
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1 teaspoon chile paste with garlic
1 garlic clove, minced

Place rice noodles in a large bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 8 minutes; drain.

Add cold water to a large, shallow dish to a depth of 1 inch. Place 1 rice paper sheet in water. Let stand 30 seconds or until soft. Place rice paper sheet on a flat surface.

Spread 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce in the center of sheet; top with 2 to 3 shrimp, 1/4 cup lettuce, about 1/4 cup rice noodles, 1 teaspoon basil, and 1 teaspoon mint. Fold sides of sheet over filling, roll up jelly-roll fashion, and gently press seam to seal. Place roll, seam side down, on a serving platter; cover to keep from drying. Repeat procedure with remaining rice paper, hoisin sauce, shrimp, lettuce, rice noodles, basil, and mint.

To prepare dipping sauce, combine soy sauce and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday, October 19, 2007

Roasted Potatoes

This is my favorite side dish. I don't remember where I got the recipe, but this was the first thing I really made my own. I make these for every occasion, and to accompany almost anything. They couldn't be easier or more flavorful. Be skeptical of my amounts. This is one of those recipes I don't measure out anymore. I've just learned how much to add. Still, it's hard to go wrong with this one.

2 lbs Yukon Gold potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp dried herbs (whatever you like. I prefer rosemary or thyme)
1 tsp garlic powder

Place a 9" x 13" Pyrex baking dish into the oven, and preheat both to 400 degrees.

Dice potatoes into even sized pieces. The smaller the dice the shorter the cook time.

Add salt, your favorite dried herb, paprika, and garlic powder. Coat with olive oil. Toss to coat the potatoes.

Add the the potatoes to the hot Pyrex baking pan. They will sizzle and sear immediately. Shake pan to get the potatoes into an even layer.

Bake for 45 minutes or until brown and crispy, stirring once during cooking. I've found it is best to flip the potatoes with a thin pancake turner as this will slide under the potatoes and keep them from sticking.

Red Wine Marinated Flank Steak

I love flank steak. It is the best thing to feed a crowd set on burgers. To me, hamburgers and all the fixings are too much work and too much expense. By the time you've seasoned, made, and grilled 12 hamburgers, I could have whipped up a flank steak that would have made everyone just as happy. Please, consider other options before resorting to hamburgers. Think of the children!

This recipe is great as a steak or as a sandwich.

1/2 cup dry red wine
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsp coarsely ground black pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 lb. flank steak

To prepare beef, combine first seven ingredients in a large zip top bag. Add steak; seal. Marinate in refrigerator overnight.

Grill over medium-high heat for 8 minutes per side for medium.

Slice against the grain on the diagonal as thinly as possible.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Soba Noodles with Brocolli and Chicken

Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients. Stop by the grocery store and visit the salad bar. Chances are you will be able to buy most of the veggies already chopped, sliced, or diced right from there. This isn't something that you can make on a whim, but it's not something that requires much time once you do start cooking. Just make sure you have everything together before you start. The dish comes together in a flash, and you won't have time to chop while something else is cooking.

Soba noodles are great because they don't stick together once they have cooked the way normal pasta will.

6 ounces uncooked soba (buckwheat noodles)
1/4 cup sake (rice wine) or dry sherry or chicken broth
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, divided
3/4 pound chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons dark sesame oil
3 cups quartered mushrooms
3 cups broccoli florets
1 cup (1-inch) red bell pepper strips
1 tablespoon bottled ground fresh ginger (such as Spice World)
2 garlic cloves, minced

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

Combine sake (or broth) and the next 4 ingredients (sake through crushed red pepper) in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; stir-fry 4 minutes or until done. Remove chicken from pan; keep warm. Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil and sesame oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and remaining ingredients; stir-fry 4 minutes or until broccoli is crisp-tender. Return chicken to pan; stir in sake mixture. Cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Serve over noodles.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Chicken Piccata

This is another weeknight standby. It goes together quickly, and with so many items that we always have on hand. When the situation changes at the last minute, and what you planned to make will no longer work, this is a recipe that can save the day. Serve with pasta.

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 tablespoons dry white wine
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.

Place each chicken breast half between 2 sheets of heavy-duty plastic wrap; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet or rolling pin. Sprinkle chicken evenly with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan. Add broth, wine, and lemon juice to the pan; reduce heat, and simmer 1 minute. Stir in the parsley and capers. Spoon sauce over chicken.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Tar Heel Tailgate Bloody Mary Mix

This helps ease those early morning tailgates. It makes a ton, and is best served out of an insulated cooler. Make the night before for best results. Once at the game, add a fifth of vodka to the mix, and pour over ice. This one is spicy, but it will keep your eyes open.

64 oz bottle V8 vegetable juice
3 Tbsp prepared white horseradish
5 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 fresh limes, squeezed and the pieces added
2 fresh lemons, squeezed and the pieces added
2 Tbsp Tabasco sauce
1 Tbsp celery seed, crushed
1 Tbsp onion powder
2 tsp dill
2 tsp Old Bay
2 tsp bitters

Garnish with celery or carrot sticks, pickles, or skewered olives.

Indian-Spiced Roast Salmon

This is one of my favorite methods of preparing salmon. While the spice mix is good, the cooking method is perfect. Roasting the salmon at the high temp makes for a perfect outcome every time - without the fear or sticking or burning that you might associate with grilling or broiling. We try to eat fish at least once a week, so this recipe is a real standby.

4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets (about 1 inch thick)
Cooking spray
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt

Option 1:
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper


Option 2:
2 teaspoons Garam Masala (or your favorite curry powder)

2/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 425°.

Place salmon, skin sides down, in a roasting pan or jelly roll pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Brush evenly with juice. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt and Option 1 or Option 2, and sprinkle evenly over fish.

Bake at 425° for 9 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Combine yogurt and cilantro, and serve with fish.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Porchetta-Style Roast Pork

Pork tenderloins from Costco are a great deal when you need to feed a crowd. This has a subtle taste that pairs well with any side dish you want to serve. The fact that it doesn't need to marinate makes it perfect for those times when time is short.

2 tablespoons crushed fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 (3 1/2-pound) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed
Cooking spray
1 cup dry white wine

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine first 4 ingredients. Make 12 (1 1/2-inch) slits along 1 side of roast, and stuff slits with fennel mixture. Place the roast, slit side down, on a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray. Rub remaining fennel mixture over the top of the roast.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a thermometer registers 155° (slightly pink). Transfer roast to a serving platter. Add wine to pan, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Pour wine mixture into a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 8 minutes). Remove from heat. Pour accumulated juices from serving platter into wine mixture. Serve wine mixture with pork.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Turkey/Chicken Cutlets with Orange-Cranberry Pan Sauce

Since there are just two of us, I usually make this with only a single boneless chicken breast pounded flat. It's a great weeknight supper with some broccoli and brown rice. This is one of the few recipes I would give 5 stars.

1 tablespoon butter
tablespoon vegetable oil
(2-ounce) turkey or chicken cutlets
teaspoon salt
teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
cup all-purpose flour
cup fresh orange juice
teaspoons Dijon mustard
cup dried cranberries

Melt butter and oil in a large nonstick skillet over low heat.

While butter melts, sprinkle cutlets with salt and pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Dredge cutlets in flour; shake off excess flour.

Increase heat to medium-high; heat 2 minutes or until butter turns golden brown. Add cutlets to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove cutlets from pan; keep warm. Add juice, mustard, and cranberries to pan, scraping to loosen browned bits. Bring to a boil; cook until reduced to 2/3 cup (about 5 minutes). Serve sauce over cutlets.

-- Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday Night Pizza Night

The pizza dough recipe below makes enough dough for 4 12" thin crust pizzas. I usually cook one and freeze the rest of the dough for next week.


1 and 1/4 cups warm water
2 envelopes instant yeast
2 tsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups flour, reserving a few spoonfuls
1 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp kosher salt

Sift the flour onto a large sheet of parchment paper. (Sifting onto the paper makes it easier to add to the mixer, reduces mess, and eases cleanup.)

Combine the water, yeast, vinegar, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low speed until just blended, about 30 seconds.

Add 1 cup of the sifted flour and mix on low speed until completely incorporated.

Add the salt, and then the rest of the flour a half cup at a time, beating after each addition until thoroughly combined.

If the dough is still sticky, add the reserved flour until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, comes together in a ball, and feels soft to the touch. It should not be too sticky to handle. You need to be able to work the dough without adding anything to your hands.

Place the ball of dough in a well oiled bowl, and turn it several times.
Cover the bowl with a clean towel, and allow the dough to rise for at least an hour. Pat down, and allow the dough to rise again. Divide the dough, top, bake, and serve.

-- Adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Bride and Groom Cookbook.