Thursday, March 29, 2012

Potato and Kale Patties

Trying to get more kale in our diets over here, you know, because it’s one of those *super* foods we are all supposed to eat.  It’s really not that difficult, just have to put your mind to it. And besides, it tastes great.

Try these and let me know what you think.

 Here’s what you need:
Some mashed potatoes
Some chopped and cooked kale
Some seasonings (I used lots of salt, pepper, garlic powder and thyme)
Some milk to loosen the mash (non-dairy is fine)

Here's what you do:
Boil  the potatoes until fork tender, remove them and set aside. Cook the kale in the same water. Grind up the cooked kale in a processor with a bit of the potato/kale water to loosen. Add the potatoes, milk, seasonings and blend.   Form little potato patties and place on oiled baking sheet. I baked mine for about 25 minutes and they were great. I didn’t use very much oil so they really didn’t brown on the bottom, but they tasted great!

Get healthy! Eat kale!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I got an award!

I got an award! Yea :) and many thanks to Amy over at Savory Moments. (thanks Amy!!) I have found much inspiration from her blog – great and creative foods. I copied her Sweet and Spiced Glazed Nuts recipe word for word (imitation is the greatest form of flattery, they say) and posted it on my Mlive blog. Addicting.  She also has a great looking coconut and lime poached fish that I’m planning to try.

So, OK, for the award I am supposed to list 7 things about myself…… horror! Like you really need to know 7 more things about me! You could click here, or here, and see some stuff about me (if you are feeling nosey and curious….) Or you could just keep reading for some other random stuff – maybe not all about me.

Number One: My son recently took a 2nd place in a local photo contest. Here’s the winning photo:

 Number Two: I think he should have won for this photo:  Your thoughts?

 Number Three: (I’m embarrassed about this one… but here goes) I also entered the photo contest and I happen to think this is a great photo…. I call it “Jenny Made a Cake.”  Note the tidy kitchen.

Number Four: I am dabbling in vegetarianism and veganism…. Just dabblin’ for now, folks.

Number Five: My oldest child will graduate from University of Michigan in a few weeks with a degree in nursing. She hopes to work in a Cardiac ICU – much more motivated that I ever was! So proud of her.

Number Six: My other son (the engineer, not the photographer) will be living on his own this summer and I am all in a bunch worrying about what/how/when he will cook and eat….. not much practice in the kitchen, but I guess we all start somewhere, eh?

Number Seven: I donated 3 dozen of my Cowboy Cookies to our school auction and they sold for (are you sitting down?) $500.00. Another person is going to purchase another 3 dozen for an additional $475.00. That’s $975.00. For cookies. Man. I feel very satisfied!

The second part of the award is to pass it along to 15 other bloggers. In random order, I choose the following favorite blogs of mine: ( I can only present 11)

1.       The Pink Leopard – tons of fun and outstanding recipes
2.       A Little African Magic – I love every post! Africa!
3.       Vegan Fazool – I told you, I am dabbling in the vegan world!
4.       And Baby Cakes Three beautiful photos and great food - very wholesome
5.       Ellie’s Place – Lots of great photos, sometimes of real castles
6.       Pam’s Midwest Kitchen yum.... 
7.       Raindrops and Daisies always a cheerful post
8.       The “Make Your Own Zone” I'm a long-time reader
9.       My Little Home and Garden -There's a fun "Sunlit Sunday" link there every week
10.   Inside a British Mum’s Kitchen I love meeting people from all over the world
11.   The Antique Wardrobe Super cute home made cards, NOT that I'm into crafts! 

Have fun getting to know these great bloggers. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pad Thai: Ten Dollar Dinners: Melissa d’Arabian

I watch a lot of TV…. there, I said it. My DVR is always on the verge of being full. I watch all kinds of stuff: news, Mad Men, Monk re-runs, PBS (can I hear you say Downton Abbey?), Top Gear, Big Ten Sports, Detroit Tigers Baseball, I even watch stuff from the Sci-Fi channel (Eureka anyone?) 
I recently discovered Melissa d’Arabian and her show “Ten Dollar Dinners” on Food Network. (or maybe Cooking Channel). She has some super recipes and such a natural style. I have lots of her stuff bookmarked. Here’s her version of Pad Thai and I totally approve! Only tweaked it a bit by adding a little less fish sauce (but if truth be told, I think mine was kinda strong because it was old…. I have since purchased a new bottle J) Oh, and I used shrimp instead of leftover turkey.
My family loved this! It’s in the rotation! My friends were jealous at the lunch table the next day!
Here’s the link: Turkey Pad Thai (well, I used shrimp)  No need to change a thing. 
Here are my photos:

Here is a screen shot of Melissa d’Arabian and me having a casual convo on Twitter......  J  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Vanilla Yogurt Cake with Orange Zest and Orange Juice Glaze

This cake is very light and not too sweet. It is simple to pull together and really needs nothing special in the way of ingredients or method. One word to describe it? Moist….. and citrusy.

This one is my own creation. I recommend it for dessert, breakfast, snack, the family or even company. You could dress it up with fresh fruit, but it really doesn’t need all that extra attention – it’s perfect as is. I know it looks a bit burned around the edges, but that part is extra nice - kinda chewy and 'mouth friendly.'  

Here’s what you need:
½ C vanilla yogurt (I used Greek style yogurt)
3 eggs
1 C sugar
1 C flour
2 t baking powder
½ C vegetable oil
Zest of one large orange

For the glaze:
Juice of one orange
½ C powdered sugar

Here’s what you do:
Whisk together the yogurt, eggs and sugar. Add in the flour and baking soda. Add in the oil and zest. Mix until well incorporated.

Prepare a 9 inch cake pan by buttering it, inserting a round of parchment paper on the bottom and then buttering the paper.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes – do not over bake.It should feel spongy.  Cool before removing. Drizzle glaze over the top and allow it to soak in. It is a very thin glaze and will soak in like syrup.

(printable recipe)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Paper Bowls - what to do with your old cooking magazines

Wanna learn how to make these awesome paper bowls? Read along – they are very, very cool. My students made these in art class; I couldn't resist making my own. 

Start by collecting lots and lots of colorful sheets of magazine pages. Think colorful! Wrap each page carefully around a tongue depressor type craft stick, starting at one corner and making your way to the opposite corner. 

Remove the craft stick, tape the corner, crease the edges and continue until you have dozens of these!

Start making the middle of the bowl by tightly wrapping the first magazine strip around a skewer. Tape it to prevent it from unwinding. 

Continue to add your magazine strips, taping the new strip to the previous strip. Keep going until you have the desired amount. It should look like a huge, flat circle of magazine strips. 

Once you have the desired amount, carefully shape your creation into a ‘bowl’ and slather it with Modge Podge. It is super sticky! Do the outside first so you can rest it (upside down) on a small can or whatever to help it keep its shape. Once it's dry, do the other side. 

Hope you get creative and try this - it is really easy and produces such a unique, practical and usable bowl! Mine is filled with candy :) 

Have you noticed that I am now on Facebook? I'd love to have you as a follower! 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tracy’s Chicken and Tarragon Crepes

Is tarragon one of those spices gathering dust in your spice cupboard? Or are you one of the brave souls that has ventured out beyond the basil and dared to try tarragon in your cooking? Me? I love tarragon- I got over my fear of new and unusual herbs years ago.

According to my trusty herb manual (The Encyclopedia of Herbs, Spices and Flavorings – a Cook’s Compendium by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz), tarragon is native to Siberia and became common in Europe in the 1400s. The name is derived from a Latin word meaning “little dragon” because of a medieval belief that it was an antidote for the bites of venomous animals….. hmmmm…. No venomous animals around here.If you are new to the flavor of tarragon, you might be surprised at its taste: it’s slightly peppery and very much like anise. It has a great aroma.

I could tell you my story about when I made Tyler Florence’s Béarnaise Sauce (which is a classic way to use tarragon) and served it over a beautiful piece of salmon. I actually tweeted a photo of my meal to him AND HE TWEETED ME BACK (yes ‘THE’ Tyler Florence) agreeing that it was a nice recipe…. My 30 seconds of fame.

Without further ado, I present an outstanding recipe, very French, very special, uses every pot and pan in the kitchen, creates an enormous mess, will get you lots of ooos and ahhhs, your family will love it, you should serve it at a party, you need all afternoon to make it, it’s worth every step and all the effort: Chicken and Tarragon Crepes!

Here’s what you need:
Some crepes….. I used two different recipes from One used melted butter and the other used vegetable oil. You can see that I had a few boo-boos, but it doesn’t matter, they get rolled up and smothered in sauce pretty soon. You can make these ahead of time and stack them up on a plate. 

A roast chicken from the deli, shredded and cut in small pieces. I used the entire bird for about  10 crepes.
Two green onions
4 T butter
4 T flour
1 C whole milk
¾ C chicken stock
¼ C dry white wine
1 t tarragon – or to taste- it’s strong and I use a lot
2 egg yolks
2 C diced chicken ( or more )
Salt and pepper

Here’s what you do:
Make a pile of crepes. I ended up using about 10 today. Plan on one to two crepes per serving and go from there. You can see my feeble attempts at crepes… they did get better as the event progressed I am happy to report. 

Mince the green onions and sauté them in the butter until soft. Add the flour and whisk for a few minutes until the butter and flour are well incorporated. Add the milk, slowly, whisking all the while. Continue to cook till thickened. Add the chicken stock, wine, tarragon, some salt and pepper. Cook till thickened.

The next step is the tiniest bit tricky and adds to the kitchen mess. Add about 3 tablespoons of the hot sauce to a small bowl in which are waiting the egg yolks. Whisk it all together. Add a little more hot sauce to the egg mixture. Then return the egg mixture to the hot sauce. Voila! You now have tempered  egg yolks and they won’t turn to scrambled eggs in your beautiful sauce! Remove half the sauce and set aside.

Add the chicken to sauce. Begin to assemble the crepes by carefully filling them with about 3 heaping tablespoons of the chicken mixture. Continue until everything is used up and the kitchen is a ridiculous mess.

Pour the remaining sauce over the crepes. Bake at 350 for about 20-30 minutes, or until bubbly.

Super proud of this meal! Major YUM! 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Coconut and Banana Pancakes - See you on Social Media!

Well, I took the plunge. I entered Pinterest World, Facebook World and Google+ World– all in the same week.  Be patient with me as I figure out how to get the ‘follow’ buttons looking good on this site…. as I write this I am not too pleased with how the buttons look over there on the right hand margin. I am my own IT guy, which means trial and error.

At first I could not for the life of me figure out what the big deal with Pinterest was….. now I am totally hooked. I have all kinds of great recipes and food ideas pinned on my boards. And I totally cleaned out all the bookmarks I had hidden on my toolbar up there. So pretty to see all that great stuff pinned all together in one spot! Love it!

As far as Facebook goes – I already had a personal FB page where I used to post all my food stuff…. Now I have a brand new and very shiny ‘Tracy’s Living Cookbook Facebook Page’ where you can find and follow me. 

Google+ is a foreign field to me so far, but I am willing to learn. Who is using it already? Can you send me some tips??? Is it simple a copycat of Facebook? I certainly have met some great people over there!

In other techie news, I am no longer writing for Mlive, but I have lots of great recipes over there. I decided to keep the Mlive icon here on Tracy's Living Cookbook, so you can always reference my stuff over there.

Anywho….. these Coconut and Banana Pancakes are something I have had bookmarked for months and are now pinned. I originally found them here and only tweaked them a tiny bit. So very good!  Made about 15 big pancakes.

Here’s what you need:
1 can (14.5 oz) lite coconut milk
½ C shredded, sweetened coconut
1 C flour
3 t baking powder
½ t salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 T brown sugar
2 T unrefined coconut oil, melted and cooled
1 t vanilla (I always use pure vanilla)

Here’s what you do:
Whisk the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and cooled oil. Add in the milk and coconut. Mix till blended. Add in the flour, baking powder and salt. Blend but do not over mix.

Fry on a hot skillet in a tiny bit of coconut oil. You can see that I add the sliced bananas on the first side of the pancake right at the beginning of the cooking process. When you flip them over, the bananas cook and get very sweet and soft.

Serve with real maple syrup and a sprinkling of chocolate chips (my kids like pancakes this way)

(printable recipe)

One Year Ago: Mrs. K's Famous Mexican Casserole (a funny name for a great dinner)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Gourmet Chicken Casserole

I'm not sure what makes this gourmet…. Almonds?....Celery?..... Canned Cream of Chicken Soup?..... Maybe it’s the obligatory layer of cheese on top?

Well, whatever the mystery gourmet element might be, this flash from my past is a total home run.

I treasure this old recipe card because it reminds me of when I was first married and learning how to cook (with canned soup and mayonnaise). This casserole was something I turned to many, many times when having company or attending a potluck. It comes to me from a friend of my mom’s, Mrs. Knaus. Can you imagine how fun it must have been back in the day when couples got together to have drinks and dinner together. Make a big casserole. Maybe play cards for the evening. That's the kind of friends they were and still are to this day. In fact, as I write this, a bunch of their group is in Hilton Head enjoying time together and eating great food too, I am sure of it.  (Mrs. Knaus, are you out there….anyone from the West Racquet Club? – Hello!)

Here’s what you need: I doubled the recipe – one to eat, one to freeze
2 C cooked chicken breast, diced
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 C diced celery – sautéed
1 C rice
½ C slivered almonds – toasted
½ C mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice – (Ah Ha! Gourmet element revealed! )
(maybe some chicken stock to loosen the mass a bit)
Cheddar for the top

Here’s what you do:
There is really only one way in my opinion to make great chicken breasts. Start with bone in and skin on. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper. Bake for about 30-35 minutes depending on the size of the breast. They are done when a knife inserts easily and all juices run clear. Cool for about 20 minute, remove and discard skin, dice meat and use bones for broth. (Thank you Ina Garten!)

Cook the rice. Toast the almonds. Saute the celery in a bit of oil and maybe some water till crisp tender.

Mix it all together. I did loosen the whole affair a bit today with some chicken stock. Cover with shredded cheddar. Bake until bubbly and glorious.

Set the table, light some candles, turn off the TV and eat together. You can see it's not fancy at our house: casserole, roasted carrots and garlic toast.  Just do it. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Chicken Lo Mein – another quick work night meal

I don't know about you, but I am not real keen on going out for dinner. Oh, don't get me wrong.... if I get invited out to a high end restaurant, I'm there. Especially if someone else is paying! And perhaps on a Friday evening, after putting in 40+ hours, we might grab a pizza out somewhere. I do like to eat lunch out, but because I am a teacher, I usually eat in the cafeteria with 60 elementary and middle school students..... (no wonder I want to run straight home after work and never leave! ha)

No,  I'm talking about going out to eat at your average, local spot..... you know, maybe for soup and a sandwich. A burger. We have places here in town that stand up rather well to a home cooked meal, but I'd much rather stay home and do grilled cheese or bean burritos. Maybe it's just me? I like the food that comes out of my own kitchen.

Here's a perfect example of what I like to cook at home..... light, tasty, cheap, healthy, tons of leftovers and really not difficult. Try it and let me know what you think. 

Here’s what you need: (it’s a long list….. )
8 oz lo mein noodles (it’s worth it to search around your town to find these – makes a nice difference)
Oyster sauce
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Chicken stock
Red pepper flakes
Sesame seeds
Vegetable oil
Some chicken breast – boneless, skinless
Some sliced onion
Some sliced carrot
Some sliced celery
Some sliced red pepper
Some sliced mushrooms
3-4 minced garlic cloves
Some snow peas
(note: I go way overboard on all the veggies cuz I love them. You decide what works for you.)

Here's what you do to make the sauce:
In a very large bowl, mix about 2 T oyster sauce + 4 T soy sauce + ½ C chicken stock + red pepper flakes + a few dashes of sesame oil. Sometimes I make even more sauce…. it’s delicious.

Here’s what you do:
Sautee the chicken in some veggie oil until no pink remains. Toward the end, add in the garlic and cook a bit longer. The kitchen will be smelling great right about now.  Remove from pan and set in the bowl with the sauce.

I do carrots and onions first. Then peppers and celery. 

Sautee the remaining veggies in batches, beginning with the hardest ones like the onions and carrots. Keep your skillet nice and hot! Keep going until everything is cooked (but not mushy !)

End with the mushrooms and snow peas. Make lots and lots of veggies. They cook down a bit and they are essential to the dish’s success. Keep adding them to the bowl.

In the meantime, boil the lo mein noodles according to the package. Drain and add to the bowl of goodness.  

Mix all together and determine if you need more sauce… I usually make more at this point.

Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and a drizzle of sesame oil. Very good!! I recommend!

(printable recipe)

One Year Ago: Salmon Chowder - super easy, uses canned salmon!