Monday, December 22, 2008

Buttermilk-brined Pork Chops

2 cups fat-free buttermilk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
4 (6-ounce) bone-in center-cut pork chops (about 1/2 inch thick)
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; shake well to dissolve salt and sugar. Add pork; seal and refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally. Remove pork from bag; discard brine. Pat pork dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle pork with pepper.

Heat a large nonstick grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat the pan with cooking spray. Add pork; cook 3 1/2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Pepper Jelly-glazed Carrots

1 (2-pound) package baby carrots
1 (10 1/2-ounce) can condensed chicken broth, undiluted
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 (10 1/2-ounce) jar red pepper jelly

Combine carrots and chicken broth in a skillet over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, and cook, stirring often, 6 to 8 minutes or until carrots are crisp-tender and broth is reduced to 1/4 cup.

Stir in butter and red pepper jelly, and cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until mixture is thickened and glazes carrots.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Green Beans with Walnuts

1 1/4 pounds green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons butter
2 tablespoons finely crushed walnuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground whole nutmeg

Place beans in a large saucepan of boiling water; cook 5 minutes. Drain.

Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts; sauté for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add beans, salt, and nutmeg; cook for 1 minute.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Potato and Cheese Biscuits

These would be a great way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. I'm not much of a biscuit maker, so I didn't try to cut the dough into rounds. I just dropped it on the pan. Maybe it wasn't as pretty, but it tastes just the same.

1 cup (1-inch) cubed peeled Yukon gold or red potato
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons chilled butter or stick margarine, cut into small pieces
3/4 cup (3 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup minced green onions

Preheat oven to 425°.

Cook the potato in boiling water 15 minutes or until very tender. Drain well; mash potato, and cool.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add mashed potato, cheese, buttermilk, and green onions; stir just until moist.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface, and knead lightly 5 times. Roll dough to a 3/4-inch thickness, and cut with a 3-inch biscuit cutter. Place on a baking sheet.

Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until golden.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Tuscan Bean and Barley Soup

Very simple, very tasty.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
5 cups water
1 cup canned cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
2 beef-flavored bouillon cubes
4 cups fresh spinach

Put the oil and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in rosemary, salt, and pepper. Add water, beans, barley, and bouillon. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until the barley is tender.

Add spinach. Serve immediately - before the spinach loses its bright green color.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Sichuan Green Beans

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon canola oil, divided
1/4 cup chopped shallots
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Cook beans in boiling water 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain and rinse under cold running water; drain. Pat beans completely dry with paper towels.

2. Heat a 14-inch wok over high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to wok, swirling to coat. Add green beans to wok; stir-fry 3 minutes or until browned. Spoon green beans into a bowl.

3. Add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to wok, swirling to coat. Add shallots, garlic, ginger, and crushed red pepper; stir-fry 15 seconds or just until garlic begins to brown. Return green beans to wok. Add vinegar, soy sauce, and salt to wok; toss to combine.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Chicken and Bean Slaw Wraps

2 (6-ounce) packages fully cooked chicken strips, chopped
1 1/2 cups coleslaw mix with carrots
1 (15-ounce) can chili powder-seasoned pinto beans, drained
1/3 cup Ranch dressing
1/2 cup chopped green onions
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup barbecue sauce

Combine first 5 ingredients, and set aside.

Place tortillas on baking sheets, and sprinkle each evenly with Cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350° for 3 to 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Top evenly with chicken mixture. Drizzle evenly with barbecue sauce. Roll up, jellyroll fashion, and cut in half. Serve immediately.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beer-Cheese Spread

This is surprisingly tasty. I used a Bass instead of the amber ale it calls for. You can taste the beer, so I imagine using different types will result in different tastes. Also, notice that it is not cooked - which means all the alcohol is still present. Plan accordingly.

(2-lb.) block sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 (12-oz.) bottle amber beer, at room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste

Beat together first 5 ingredients at low speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until blended. Gradually add beer, beating until blended after each addition. Beat at medium-high speed 1 minute or until blended and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cover and chill 2 hours. Garnish, if desired. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 weeks.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Grits Casserole with White Beans and Rosemary

Very tasty. Looks impressive.

4 (1-ounce) slices French bread or other firm white bread, cubed
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
7 cups boiling water, divided
3 ounces sun-dried tomatoes, packed without oil, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped leeks, cleaned and separated
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (19-ounce) can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
1 1/2 cups uncooked regular grits
2 tablespoons butter
Cooking spray

Place bread in a food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, and parsley in a small bowl; set aside.

Combine 3 cups boiling water and sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl; let stand 10 minutes or until soft. Drain tomatoes over a bowl, reserving 1 cup liquid.

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add leeks, rosemary, crushed red pepper, and garlic; saute 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and reserved 1 cup liquid. Bring to a boil; cook 7 minutes or until most of liquid evaporates. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, black pepper, and beans.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Combine 4 cups boiling water, 1 teaspoon salt, grits, and butter in a large saucepan. Cook 8 minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly. Pour grits mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon tomato mixture evenly over grits; top with breadcrumb mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mocha-Chocolate Shortbread

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels, divided

Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl; add butter and vanilla, and beat at low speed with an electric mixer until blended. Stir in 1 cup chocolate morsels.

Press dough into an ungreased 9-inch square pan; prick dough with a fork.

Bake at 325° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. Sprinkle remaining 1 cup morsels over top, and spread to cover. Cut shortbread into 25 (about 1 3/4-inch) squares; cut each square into 2 triangles. Let cool 30 minutes in pan before removing.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine

Sugared Cranberries

I'm not sure what to make of these. They are tasty, but you really don't want to eat a whole bunch. Still, they would make for interesting conversation, if nothing else.

You can make your own superfine sugar by putting regular white granulated sugar in a food processor for a minute or so.

2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
3/4 cup superfine sugar

Combine granulated sugar and water in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring mixture until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer; remove from heat. (Do not boil or the cranberries may pop when added). Stir in cranberries; pour mixture into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate 48 hours.

Drain cranberries in a colander over a bowl, reserving steeping liquid, if desired. Place superfine sugar in a shallow dish. Add the cranberries, rolling to coat with sugar. Spread sugared cranberries in a single layer on a baking sheet; let stand at room temperature 1 hour or until dry.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Spicy Herb Roasted Nuts

Instead of buying all the different varieties of nuts, Target sells a great big container of mixed nuts under the Archer Farms brand. We get the Deluxe Roasted Unsalted to make these. Best thing about them is no peanuts! So if you want to stretch the container, add your own.

If using dried herbs, use half the fresh amount.

1 1/2 cups almonds
1 1/2 cups walnut halves
1 cup hazelnuts
1 cup pecan halves
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh savory leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Mix almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, maple syrup, cayenne, oregano, sage, thyme, rosemary, savory, marjoram, and oil in a 10- by 15-inch rimmed pan. Sprinkle nuts with 1 teaspoon salt.

2. Bake in a 300° oven, stirring occasionally, until all liquid evaporates and nuts are golden under the skin (break open to test), about 30 minutes. You'll want to start checking on them about 20 minutes in. Don't let them burn!

3. Let cool. Taste and add more salt if desired.

--Adapted from Sunset magazine

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Linguine with Peas and Mushrooms

1-ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 pound linguine
4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 leeks, chopped
2 cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves or 1 teaspoon dried
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup reduced-sodium beef broth
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan cheese

Soak porcini mushrooms in 1 cup hot water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserve soaking liquid and set aside.

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and cook 2 minutes. Add drained porcini mushrooms and shiitake mushrooms and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add sage and stir to coat. Add peas, broth and reserved porcini soaking liquid (strain liquid through a paper towel to remove debris) and bring to a simmer. Simmer 5 minutes. Add mixture to linguine, add parsley and toss to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper. Transfer to a serving platter and top with Parmesan.

Adapted from Robin Miller

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Perfect Christmas buffet appetizer. I made this in the oven, but I see no reason why you couldn't do it in a slow cooker. Just adjust the cooking time to 4 hours or so.

This recipe calls for a lot of black pepper. You may want to add half the amount, and taste at some point in the cooking. As the sauce reduces, the pepper flavor will intensify. I happen to like pepper, so it doesn't bother me. Your tastes may differ.

2 1/2 cups ketchup
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup white vinegar
Black pepper (about a tablespoon)
1/4 cup tablespoons pineapple juice (reserved from the cans listed below)
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup chopped green onion
6 cloves chopped garlic
2 pounds cooked and frozen mini-meatballs, thawed
2 (8-ounce) cans pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved

Coarse black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the first 10 ingredients (ketchup through garlic) in a large bowl. Stir well to combine. Add meatballs and pineapple chunks. Stir again to coat.

Add the meatball mixture to a deep greased baking dish. Bake 1 hour, stirring after 30 minutes. If the mixture looks dry, add the rest of the reserved pineapple juice. Season with more cracked pepper, and serve hot.

--Adapted from Shane Grenald and Paula Deen

Pan-fried Salmon with Pineapple Relish

2 cups chopped pineapple
1/4 cup finely chopped green onion
1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon garlic-chile paste (more if you want it really spicy)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup plain bread crumbs
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, skin removed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Combine first 6 ingredients in a medium bowl; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt.

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

Sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over fish. Gently press salmon fillets into bread crumbs to coat. Add fish to pan, skin side up; cook 2-4 minutes on each side (depending on thickness) or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with pineapple mixture.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

New Mexican Hot Chocolate

I listed the stove-top directions, though I made this is in a pitcher in the microwave.

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup honey
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Gradually add milk and extract, stirring constantly with a whisk. Heat to 180° or until tiny bubbles form around edge, stirring with a whisk (do not boil).

Beef Daube Provencal

2 teaspoons olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrot
8 oz. whole mushrooms
1 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon herbes de provence
Dash of ground cloves
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
3 cups cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake at 300° for 2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles.

--Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

Friday, December 5, 2008

Pancotto con Broccoli (Toasted Bread with Broccoli)

This is a great recipe.

2 1/2 pounds broccoli
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for garnish
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 red chile pepper, cut in half (or big pinch of crushed red pepper flakes)
5 (1-inch) slices day-old Italian peasant bread, cut into 1-inch chunks
Grated Parmesan, for garnish

Bring 8 quarts water to a rolling boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the broccoli and cook until tender, about 6 minutes. Drain, reserve the cooking liquid and set aside.

In a 12-inch saucepan, heat the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Add the garlic and chile pepper halves and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 5 minutes. While the garlic and pepper cook, cut the drained broccoli into small florets, about 1/2-inch each.

Add the bread to the pan with a few ladles of reserved broccoli water. Then add the broccoli, season with salt and simmer 4 to 5 minutes. Garnish with extra-virgin olive oil and grated Parmesan. Serve very hot.

--Adapted from Mario Batali

Honey-Maple Chicken Salad

This is a very sweet chicken salad. It gets a bit cloying when you eat a lot, but is very tasty in small doses. So it is probably better suited to an appetizer than a main dish.

4 cups chopped cooked chicken
3 celery ribs, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 cup sweetened dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Garnish: chopped toasted pecans

1. Combine first 4 ingredients.

2. Whisk together mayonnaise and next 3 ingredients. Add to chicken mixture, stirring gently until combined. Garnish, if desired.

--Adapted from Southern Living magazine