Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Beef and Bulgur Stuffed Zucchini

Made a great  lite Italian tomato dressing by grating a tomato and adding lemon, honey,
olive oil, dijon, spices.... 

Ellie Krieger is one of my favorite TV cooking personalities. Don’t let her ‘healthy’ angle scare you away from trying her stuff – it’s all fantastic. These little beauties were a cinch to make and they tasted awesome. The currents and pine nuts really added to the overall texture and flavor. Bonus for me: I got to use some bulgur (which I purchased for the Spice Rack Challenge) and also some coriander (which I purchased for the same!)

Here’s what you need:
3 medium zucchini (about ½ pound each) You can see I did not use enough zucchini, so my proportions were off, but oh, well.
1 T olive oil
1 small chopped onion
1 T chopped garlic
½ lb. lean ground beef (I use sirloin)
2 t ground cumin
1 t ground coriander
½ t red pepper flakes or to taste
1 14.5 ounce can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, strained, juice reserved
1 C cooked bulgur (about 1/3 C dried – cooked according to package)
3 T dried currants (great, great, great ingredient)
3 T toasted pine nuts (great, great, great ingredient)
¼ C chopped parsley
½ C low-sodium tomato sauce

Here’s what you do:

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. When they are tender, add beef and brown completely. Add the cooked bulgur, spices, drained tomatoes, currants and nuts. Mix well.

Slice zucchini lengthwise in half and scrap out the seedy middle with a spoon. Discard the pulp and be sure to leave about ¼ inch flesh intact.

Place zucchini ‘boats’ in a baking dish and stuff them with the beef and bulgur mixture. I had a little too much filling, so I just tucked it in the corner of the pan.

Pour reserved tomato juice and extra ½ C of tomato sauce over all.

Cover and bake at 350 until heated through. 

(printable recipe)

One Year Ago: Rouladen (one of my family's favorite dinners - perfect for company)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Pretzel Rolls

This is an excellent recipe to start with if you’re still afraid to use yeast – it couldn’t be easier.  And believe it or not, these actually taste like soft pretzels. Salty, chewy, tender and very satisfying.  No kneading, no stress-- just a peaceful time of waiting and watching.   Yeast is such a mysterious ingredient. There’s nothing like that earthy smell wafting up from the yeast and warm water…… How can that turn into bread???

I read about this recipe on Opera Singer in the Kitchen. (Noelle is a fellow Michigan blogger) on the Monday after Easter and decided to make these to serve with my leftover Easter ham….. so glad I did. The fried egg was Tim’s idea.

You can follow the vegan recipe on Noelle’s site or the one I used on Tasty Kitchen.

Here’s what you need:
1 ½ C  warm water (110 degrees F. I actually used my candy thermometer)
1 package Active Dry Yeast (not Quick Rise Yeast)
2 teaspoons sugar
4 ½ C unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t Kosher salt (this seems like too much, but it was very nice - Remember, Kosher salt tastes less salty than regular table salt, so adjust your amount down if you use table salt. Kosher salt also measures differently than table salt because of its larger crystals.)
4 T melted unsalted butter (I suppose you could use salted butter and cut down on the amount of salt you add)
¼ C baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten
Sea salt to sprinkle on top

Here’s what you do:
Place the warm water in the bowl of a standing mixer, add the yeast and wait about 5 minutes until the yeast is frothy and ‘alive.’

In the meantime: whisk together the sugar, flour and salt. Melt the butter. Beat the egg and set aside.

When the yeast is a bit ‘foamy’ add the dry ingredients in small amounts, mixing well. Add the melted butter and egg and mix well with the hook attachment until it looks like this:

Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in bulk. Punch down and turn out onto a floured board. Cut into 16-18 pieces; shape into balls by pinching, coaxing and rolling. You have to sort of pull the sides down to the bottom and pinch it together to seal. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets.

Now the strange part: Boil 2 quarts of water. When bubbly, add the baking soda……. It’s like a science experiment. Lower heat to simmer.

Add the ‘dough balls’ carefully to the simmering water and poach them, seam side down for about 30 seconds. Turn them over and do the same for the second side. Remove them with a slotted spoon to the same prepared parchment lined baking sheets.

Glaze each roll with lightly beaten egg wash – make sure to coat completely. Top each roll with sea salt (or pretzel salt). Cut a cross shaped slash in each roll with a sharp knife. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

These were totally fantastic – I recommend them to all of you – try your hand at making these today – it was not difficult and the end product was excellent!

These were incredible toasted the next morning with butter and honey. 

(printable recipe) 

ONE YEAR AGO:  Strawberry Rhubarb Pie  (My first-ever blog post!)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Sesame-Ginger Tilapia en Papillote

Have you experimented with the ‘en papillote’ method? This was a first for me, but it won’t be a last. Of course if you have watched cooking shows on TV then you have most likely seen this done. It really wasn’t difficult at all and the end result was complete deliciousness. Plus look at that impressive presentation! I made a lite Asian dressing which totally infused every bite and kept the fish extra tender. This method would be perfect for all types of fish, and I’ve even seen it used for chicken….. will definitely try that!

This recipe will be tagged in a new category on this blog: heart healthy. These recipes will have low fat, low sodium and low calories. They might also contain ingredients which boost heart health: wheat, salmon, flax, etc. Enjoy the recipes and please let me know if you try any!

Here’s what you need:
Parchment paper
2 tilapia fillets
Some shredded bok choy cabbage
Some thinly sliced red pepper

1 T orange juice
2 t sesame oil
1 t freshly grated ginger
3 T low-sodium soy sauce
2 t rice vinegar

Here’s what you do:

Place some shredded cabbage and red peppers in the middle of the parchment paper. Drizzle some dressing over the veggies. Place the fish upon the veggies and drizzle more dressing over all.

Starting at one corner, fold the parchment all the way around, using triangular folds……. When you get to the end, fold the paper under….. you want to create an air-tight situation. Keep all that steam in there. Brush the entire package with olive oil.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes.

Easy. Lite. Pretty. Fancy. Delicious. Great for company. Perfect for your family.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge: Mint

Well, I feel like I might be cheating on this month’s challenge…..

 1) I really don’t like mint. I only use it in a few things.

 2) Because I don’t like it, I didn’t even want to learn about it (that’s lame, I know)

3) I live in a small town with a small grocery store, so no hope for fantastic fresh herbs, just the          pre-packaged stuff.

 4) I have always wanted to taste a Mojito….. so, there was no real challenge for me this month!  
            Just a nice, warm, happy feeling after working on and tasting this delish drink.

Here’s what you need:
Fresh mint
Fresh lime
A bit of sugar (Next time I will leave out the sugar - rum is already sweet)
Light rum
Soda water

Here’s what you do:
Muddle the mint, lime and sugar. I used a large glass and a wooden spoon.

Add ice, rum and soda water. I strained my drink (well, drinks – plural….) into my favorite glass. Look at that gorgeous color.

Beautiful! Keep messing with the quantities until you get it how you like it. Practice makes perfect, right? 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Famous Baked Beans

Well, baked bean season is upon us. The classic potluck dish.  A must have at every barbeque. Great hot or cold. One of my all-time favorite foods. The only secret to great baked beans is to actually BAKE them. Not just warm them up in the oven, but actually bake them long and low. Get all that goodness infused through every bite. I think mine are especially good – I always get compliments. 

Here’s what you need:

1 cup chopped onion
½ pound bacon, diced in large chunks
Canned baked beans
                The perfect amount for a 9X13 is
                2 x 28 ounce cans Bush’s brand beans
                1 x 15 ounce black beans
                1 x 15 ounce kidney beans
Sometimes I add cannelloni beans. This is another secret to great beans – have a variety of shapes, colors, textures and sizes of beans
¾ C catsup
1/8 C yellow mustard
¼ C brown sugar
1-2 heaping Tablespoons chili powder (another secret)
Of course, all these measurements can be tweaked to your taste, but this is a good starting place.

Here’s what you do:

Keep the liquid from any Bush’s brand beans you use – it’s really good. Drain and rinse any other beans.  See that lonely single piece of bacon in the middle of the bowl? Doesn’t it make you sad?

Sautee the onions and bacon until the fat is melted and the onions are nice and soft. You don’t need to cook the bacon as crisp as you would for bacon and eggs. Just get it all melty and tender.  

Add the catsup, mustard, brown sugar and chili power to the bacon and onion mixture. Scrap all the goodness from the bottom of the pan.

Mix all well. Pour into a 9x13 pan and bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for at least one hour.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Many thanks to 'Mrs. Stranded' at Stranded in Cleveland for this nice blog award! I think you would like her blog - lots of beautiful food and recipes and also some great table decorating ideas. She even has time for crafts, which is not really my cup of tea, but something that I admire in those of you who are 'crafters' out there!

3 easy rules for this award:
1. Say thank you to the person who awarded you
2. Share 7 interesting things about yourself
3. Forward the award to 15 other bloggers

So, many thanks to Mrs. Stranded for finding and following my blog. That always feels nice!

7 interesting things about me – now, that’s a bit harder. I think I will simply list 7 random things about me – interesting or not. If you want interesting you might click here to see a previous post….. Let’s see……

A visitor to my little lettuce garden. 

1.       I am growing lettuce and spinach in my garden and have already harvested lots of great leaves for salads.
2.       I am currently reading Ayn Rand’s classic novel “Atlas Shrugged” and loving it.
3.       I am the official tweeter for my church. (@LutheranTweet if interested in following me there)
4.       I hate housework and I hate gardening.
5.       I am teaching my very first cooking class next week. Kinda nervous about it.
6.       I love shoes and shoe shopping.
7.       My cookbooks are in terrible disarray. I have little piles all over the house.

I can’t pass this award to 15 bloggers – that seems like a bit much to me. But I do award this to the following:
1.       Culinary Collage – Terry Ann is a fellow Michigan blogger.
2.       Honestly Good Food – very nice, healthy food. My favorite post is called “The Arrival of the Pigs.” I love the photos there.
3.       Olla-Podrida – Pattie has great recipes and also has some fantastic ideas for decorating your table. I love browsing through her site…… my table is usually just plates and paper napkins, but she often inspires me.
4.       SPCookie Queen – Gina recently posted a great cheese pretzel recipe
5.       Put a Lid on It – Perfect for those of you who love canning and preserving. She's also participating in the Spice Rack Challenge.
6. Be Delicious  - Jenny just posted three recipes using fresh tomatoes. Very nice. 

Click away! Make some new friends! Enjoy some new blogs.... and have a great day!