Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tracy’s Red Pepper Sauce

Take some red peppers, sweet onions, tomatoes, garlic - mostly peppers.

Chop them up. Cook them in a big pot for a while. Add some salt, pepper, sugar. Keep cooking.

Add some tomato sauce and some tomato paste. Keep cooking and stirring.

Cool. Process in a machine until pretty smooth.

Press through sieve (optional step. Sometimes I leave the sauce chunky)

Serve on pasta, pizza, enchiladas, etc.

Be very proud of your efforts. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lemon Fettuccini

It has been really hot here in Michigan. We are used to cool breezes and overcast skies, so when the temperature rises and the humidity rises and the heat index rises…. well, we don’t like it.

Of course, talk to us in February, when it’s below zero for a week…. well, we don’t like that either.

It has been too hot to cook or eat. I think last week for dinner I managed to serve my hubby a beer and some Wheat Thins. My boys have been scrounging through the fridge for whatever they can muster up….and then end up trying to be satisfied with cold cereal. Sorry guys.

I have not been in the mood to even think about food. UntiI I saw this beautiful recipe here. I’m over the slump and back to cooking for the people I love. Wheat Thins be gone! Cold cereal be gone! Let’s keep the air conditioning on and start cooking again!

Please visit The Slow Roasted Italian to see my inspiration for this meal. I added hot pepper flakes and baby spinach leaves and served it with sautéed zucchini from my garden. Lovely. Perfect. Dinner. 

Lemon Fettuccini

1 pound fettuccini
1/3 C olive oil
Fresh garlic (I used 6 cloves, minced)
2/3 C Parmesan cheese
½ fresh lemon juice (2 large lemons)
Zest from one lemon
Cracked pepper
Red pepper flakes
Fresh parsley
2 big handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Be sure to reserve 1 C of the pasta water.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the minced garlic and slowly cook it over low heat, being careful not to brown it too much.  

Add the lemon juice, lemon zest, pepper flakes and cheese. Whisk until smooth. Add the reserved 1 Cup of pasta water and continue to whisk.

Drain pasta and place it in the sauce. Add the parsley and spinach leaves. Using tongs, mix all together until the pasta is coated with the lemon/oil sauce.

Serve immediately.   

(printable recipe)

One Year Ago: Greek Pasta and Spinach Salad  - very refreshing and a great way to use up the spinach you purchase for the Lemon Fettuccine!
One Year Ago: Spinach Lasagna - More SPINACH! This is one of my best recipes. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Spice Rack Challenge : Basil

Chapter One:
Search around for a great way to use basil – of course it must be paired with other summer essentials: tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant.

Chapter Two:

Chapter Three:
Go to the garden and see that there are only TWO basil plants this year…… spend some time wondering how that happened. Not enough for homemade pesto, sigh……. Will I have to purchase basil?? Horrors…..Is there still time to plant more? 

Chapter Three and a half:
Looking for a super way to use tons of basil? click here for my pesto recipe.

Chapter Four:
Make a trip to the health food store for corn meal.

Chapter Five:
Gather the simple ingredients and study the recipe. (Ellie Krieger’s recipes sometimes have way too many steps, but they are always worth the effort.)

 Chapter Six:
Make the crust.

Chapter Seven:
Bake with foil and beans.

Chapter Eight:
Bake longer without the foil and beans.

Chapter Nine:
Sautee shallots.

Chapter Ten:
Thinly slice all the tomatoes, zucchini and eggplant. 

Chapter Eleven:
Slowly roast the veggies.

Chapter Twelve:
Allow everything to cool.

Chapter Thirteen:
Layer all the goodness - veggies, cheeses, basil– beautiful really…. 

Chapter Fourteen:
Bake and serve with couscous salad.

We absolutely loved the layered veggies in this tart, but did not enjoy the crust. It was too dry and ‘corny’ for our taste.  This recipe only calls for 2 T butter and 2 T oil in the crust, whereas in other crusts there in an entire stick of butter and sometimes even more fat (cheese, or whatever.) So, if you’re looking to curb calories, this crust is fine. If you’re looking for a flaky bite, search for a different crust. If you want a delicious combination of roasted veggies, look no further.

When the recipe says use 1/3 of an eggplant and a medium zucchini, you are left with these sad leftovers….. what to do? Roast them and put them on a pizza?

One Year Ago:
Oatmeal Bread - I make this all the time
Tomato Appetizer Pie - a summer classic

Friday, July 8, 2011

Baked Chicken with Wild Rice, Onion and Tarragon

 I found this recipe while scouring the Mayo Clinic web site, yes, Mayo Clinic. You would be surprised at how many interesting recipes they have – all low fat, low sodium, low calorie and heart-healthy. Those attributes don’t necessarily mean low flavor though. You get around that by making sure you have plenty of great seasonings and great textures in the food. This classic chicken dish has the pleasant flavor of tarragon (which I love) and chewy wild rice (which I also love).

Click here to check out the Mayo Clinic site – I’m sure you will find more than a few recipes that you can incorporate into your menu.

Here’s what you need:
6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves (or fewer)
1 ½ C chopped celery
1 ½ C chopped sweet onions
1 t dried tarragon
2 C low sodium chicken stock
1 ½ C dry white wine
1 package long grain and wild rice mix and seasoning packet

Here’s what you do:
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Cut chicken breasts into ½ - 1 inch chunks. Combine the chicken, celery, onions, tarragon and 1 C of the stock in a nonstick frying pan. Cook on medium heat until the chicken and veggies are tender – about 10 minutes. Set aside.

In a baking dish, combine the wine, remaining 1 C stock, rice and seasoning packet. Let this soak for about 30 minutes.

Add the chicken and veggies to the baking dish. Cover and bake for about 60 minute. Check it from time to time to make sure the rice does not dry out – mine was perfect!

One Year Ago: Mushroom and Garlic Pizza (this one is really, really great.....)
                         Cherry Pie My cherry picture comes from this post - check it out!
                         Couscous Chickpea Salad This is one of my favorite salads
                         Lime Cilantro Cole Slaw Very refreshing and unusual

Monday, July 4, 2011

Big Crumb Rhubarb Coffee Cake

Oh man. You must make this. I found this recipe while searching around the internet for ways to use up my rhubarb. The recipe comes from the New York Times June 6, 2007, but I tweaked the oven temp and baking time.

I actually have made this a few times this past month, but never quite to my satisfaction. So I went back to the original recipe, read carefully, noted that you must use DARK brown sugar and an 8X8 square pan. Those types of details can turn an average baker into a great baker..... when in doubt, read the directions, eh?

You remember my monster rhubarb patch, don’t you? From this:

Embarrassing, really.....

To this:

I can feel better now..... 

I’m pretty proud of myself for using up so much rhubarb, but I must say, this was my favorite! Try it.

Here’s what you need:
For the Rhubarb Filling:
½ lb rhubarb
¼ C sugar
2 t cornstarch
½ t ground ginger

For the all-important crumbs:
1/3 C DARK BROWN sugar (notice the caps – there’s a reason for that)
1/3 C granulated sugar
1 t cinnamon
½ t ground ginger
1/8 t salt
½ C melted butter
1 ¾ C flour

For the Cake:
1/3 C sour cream
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 t vanilla
1 C flour
½ C granulated sugar
½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
¼ t salt
6 T softened butter, cut into 8 pieces

1.       Slice rhubarb in ½ inch pieces, toss with sugar, cornstarch and ginger. Set aside.

2.       To make the awesome crumbs, whisk together the sugars, spices, salt and butter until smooth. Stir in the flour. Set aside.

3.       To make the cake stir together the sour cream, egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Using a mixer, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add butter and continue to mix. Add the sour cream mixture in two batches, mixing gently for about 30 seconds. Scoop out ½ of batter and set it aside.

4.       Scrape out the remaining batter into a greased  8 inch square pan (don’t use a bigger pan!)

5.       Spoon rhubarb mixture over bottom layer.

6.       Dollop set-aside batter mover rhubarb – it does not need to be even.

7.       Crumble the topping over the top of the batter. It should be in ½ -3/4 inch pieces. Use your fingers to get it all in place. They do not need to be uniform in size or shape.

8.       Bake at 350 (original recipe calls for 325) for about 45 minutes (or longer if the middle of the cake is still too moist.)

9.       Cool completely before serving. 

Check out the size of this rhubarb leaf! Fantastic! 

big leaf!