Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Sweet Potato Chili

This chili was even better than I remembered- the spicy/smoky flavors pair perfectly with the sweet taste of sweet potato, red bell pepper, and orange.  The ingredients are very healthy and make a very filling meal. 

Here is how I made it:

3 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 Tab chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice

Place sweet potato chunks in crock pot and dump remaining ingredients on top.  Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 
If you are like Art and want the sweet potato to mash in with everything else when stirred, cook it longer.
We put Chipotle Tabasco sauce on ours and it was perfect. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Roast Chicken Breast with Potatoes, Green Beans and Mustard Pan Sauce

I wanted to try Bon Appetit's "holiday feast that comes together in just two hours."  The pictures looked awesome.  And, I loved the idea of cooking an entire meal with one recipe. 

But, I couldn't find boneless turkey breast.  So, I substituted boneless, skinless chicken breasts and adjusted the cooking time a bit.  

The chicken came out moist and flavorful.  The potatoes and green beans were perfect sides.  The leeks didn't seem to add any flavor to the dish, so next time I'll save a few minutes (and a few bucks!) and leave them out.  I spent a little extra and bought the baby potatoes, but next time I'll just get new potatoes and quarter them.  The mustard pan sauce was a great way to up the flavor- I really enjoyed the combination of tarragon and honey mustard. 

Here is how I made the dish:

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
4 Tab honey mustard, divided
5 Tab chopped fresh tarragon, divided
2 1/2 Tab olive oil, divided
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
2lb baby potatoes
2 cups thinly sliced leeks (white and pale green parts only; about 2 large)
2 8oz packages trimmed French green beans
1 cup low salt chicken broth

Position 1 rack in top third and 1 rack in bottom third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.
Coat 2 heavy large rimmed baking sheets with nonstick spray.  Whisk 2 Tab mustard, 2 Tab tarragon, and 1 Tab olive oil in a small bowl.  Spread on chicken breasts in a pie plate to coat and refrigerate 30 minutes. 
Toss potatoes, leeks, 1 Tab tarragon, and 1 Tab oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread on baking sheet and place potatoes in top third of oven.  Roast until tender, about 45 minutes. 
Put chicken on baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place in bottom third of oven and roast for 10 minutes. 
Toss beans with 1 Tab tarragon and 1/2 Tab oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Spread beans around chicken; pour broth over beans.  Return chicken and beans to oven and continue roasting until chicken is cooked through, about 15 more minutes. 
Remove chicken and beans to a platter.  Whisk 2 Tab mustard into chicken juices in baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Spoon some sauce over chicken and sprinkle with 1 Tab tarragon.  Serve with remaining sauce on side.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Slow Cooker Squash Casserole and Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Chile Cream

I have experimented with a few Thanksgiving-ish recipes this week.  Last night's squash casserole and roasted sweet potatoes were both very good.  I would happily serve (and eat) these on Thanksgiving or anytime.  And, both recipes were quick and easy to prepare.

This month's issue of Southern Living included a recipe for squash casserole that is cooked in a slow cooker.  It is full of tasty squash, zucchini, and cheese.  I spent about 30 minutes putting everything together. 

I was briefly disappointed when I saw that the final 30 minutes of cooking with the lid removed had produced a dark brown crust on the bottom of my casserole.   But, this turned out to be really tasty- it was like a cheese crust to the light, souffle-like casserole.

  2 lb yellow squash, sliced
  2 lb zucchini, sliced
  1 large sweet onion, finely chopped
  2 cups shredded sharp cheddar
  2 cups soft, fresh breadcrumbs
  1 (8oz) container sour cream (I used reduced fat)
  2 large eggs, beaten
  1 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  1/2 tsp pepper
  3/4 cups shredded Parmesan cheese

  Cook first three ingredients in boiling water to cover in a large pot for 10-12 minutes or just until tender.  Drain well in a colander, pressing squash with a spoon. 
Stir together squash mixture, Cheddar, and next 5 ingredients.  Spoon into a lightly greased slow cooker.  Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top.
Cover and cook on low 2 1/2 to 3 hours or until center is set and edges are golden brown.  Uncover and cook 30 minutes.  Let stand 10 minutes.

I am always excited to try sweet potato recipes.  This month's issue of Bon Appetit included a recipe for sweet potato wedges with smoked chile cream.  This recipe is a unique and healthy way to serve sweet potatoes without masking their flavor with sugar and marshmallows (not that this is always a bad way to serve them).  And, you get to eat the nutrient-rich skin.  I'm addicted.

  1/3 cup sour cream
  3 Tab finely chopped green onion tops
  2 tsp chipotle hot pepper sauce
  2 tsp fresh lime juice
  3 lb sweet potatoes, scrubbed, cut lengthwise into 3/4" wide wedges with skin
  3 Tab olive oil
  1 1/2 tsp cumin

  Whisk sour cream, 1 Tab green onion tops, chipotle hot sauce, and the lime juice in a small bowl.  Cover and chill.  (This can be made 1 day ahead.)
Heat oven to 425 degrees.  Combine sweet potatoes with oil and cumin in a large bowl.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss to coat.  Arrange potatoes, cut sides down, on a large rimmed baking sheet.  Roast until tender and browned in spots, about 20 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Place potato wedges on a large platter and drizzle with chile cream.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 Tab green onion tops.  (My chile cream was too thick to drizzle, so I just served it on the side.)

Friday, November 12, 2010


I tried a new recipe for tabouli.  The tons of fresh herbs made it very appealing, but also very expensive since I don't grow my own.  This recipe has more herbs and less olive oil than the recipe I had previously made.   Both were good. 

I found the tabouli recipe on the Epicurious app.  I served it with flat bread and hummus.  Here is the version I made:

1 cup bulgur wheat
2 Tab olive oil
2 garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup diced red onion
2 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
3 Tab finely chopped fresh dill
3 Tab finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

Bring water to a boil.  Stir together bulgur and 1 Tab olive oil in a heatproof bowl.  Add boiling water to cover.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand 15 minutes.  Drain, pressing out water and let cool to room temperature.
Transfer bulgur to a large bowl and toss with remaining 1 Tab olive oil and the rest of the ingredients.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.  Serve cold.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Double Chip Peanut Butter Blondies

I first made these as Valentine gifts for friends in 2004.  I had so much faith in the delicious looking recipe that I gave them out without first trying them.  So, the feedback I received was unexpected: people were blown away by these peanut butter chocolate treats.  I have been making them ever since.

And, now, you can, too!  These are like very soft bar cookies.  They are very easy to make in about 15 minutes. 

I found the recipe in a small cookbook published by the Southern Living cooking school in 2001. 

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 12oz package semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter chips

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.  Gradually add sugars, beating until smooth.  Add peanut butter and vanilla, beating until blended.  Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating after each addition.
Combine flour and next 3 ingredients.  Gradually add to butter mixture, beating on low speed until blended.  Fold in chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. 
Press dough into a greased and floured 13x9" pan. 
Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on wire rack.  Cut into bars and serve.  Makes 2 dozen.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Waffles

We had pumpkin waffles for supper. 

I followed a recipe on www.epicurious.com that produced waffles with a custard-like taste.  The ratio of eggs, milk, pumpkin, and butter to flour is unusually high.  The thing I did not like was the way the waffles turned immediately limp and soggy when removed from the waffle iron.  Still, these were a unique and mostly enjoyable take on waffles.

A couple of weeks ago, I made a different pumpkin waffle recipe from Spark Recipes.  I was drawn to the convenience of making the batter the night before, and to the use of soy milk and wheat flour.  The texture and density of these reminded me of muffins in the shape of waffles. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Fish Cakes

I turned our tilapia left-overs into fish cakes.  This was a good way to make the previous night's dinner into something new and exciting. 

cooked tilapia, flaked
garlic parsley couscous
pickled onions, diced
egg, beaten
1 Tab oil
lemon juice

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl.  Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Form fish mixture into small patties (1" diameter) and drop into hot oil.  Cook until golden brown, about 1 minute and flip.  Repeat with remaining fish mixture.  Sprinkle with salt and lemon juice.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Lemon Tilapia with Garlic Couscous

My mom came up to visit us for a few days.  We had a great time with her.  For our supper last night, we had tilapia, couscous, and steamed broccoli.  I found the tilapia recipe in Everyday with Rachel Ray.  This was a flavorful and easy way to prepare frozen tilapia fillets.  The pan fried tilapia is served on a bed of yummy couscous and topped with pickled red onions.  The onions were Jacob's favorite part of the meal.

Here is how I made it:

      1/2 of a red onion, thinly sliced
      Juice of 1/2 lemon, plus 1/2 lemon cut lengthwise into 4 wedges
      1/4 cup flour
      salt and pepper
      3 Tab extra virgin olive oil
      3 garlic cloves, minced
      2 cups chicken broth
     10oz plain couscous
     1/4 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped
     2 eggs
     4 5oz tilapia fillets

     In a small bowl, combine onion and the lemon juice and season with salt and pepper.
     In a medium sauce pan, heat 1 Tab olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic and stir for 1 minute.    
     Add chicken broth and season with salt.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and stir in
     couscous and parsley.  Cover and let stand at least 5 minutes while you cook the fish.   
     In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs with 1 Tab water. In another shallow bowl, stir together flour and a
     generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. 
     In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 Tab olive oil over medium high.  Working in two batches, dip the
     fish in the egg and let excess drip off.  Dip in flour and turn to coat.  Cook in pan, turning once,
     until golden, about 5 minutes.  Transfer to a platter and repeat with remaining fish. 
     Divide the couscous among four plates.  Arrange fish on top and sprinkle with pickled onions. 
     Serve with the lemon wedges.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rotini with Cheese and Broccoli

I tried Rachel Ray's recipe for cheesy mac and trees.  I liked the idea of using whole wheat rotini pasta and broccoli in macaroni and cheese.  Jacob loved this dish!  Art and I found it kind of bland- I just seasoned mine with salt and pepper and Art used hot sauce.  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Beef, Shiitake, and Snow Pea Stir-Fry

The stir-fry I made for supper last night was a success: easy prep (<30minutes), powerful flavors, and enough leftovers for lunch today.  I found the recipe in Bon Appetit and served it with brown rice.

Out of necessity, I made a few minor changes to the recipe:

1lb top sirloin steak, cut into 2" long, 1/4" thick slices
1 Tab olive oil
1 Tab minced peeled fresh ginger
1oz dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted according to package directions
8oz snow peas
1 cup cilantro leaves, divided
1 bunch green onions, sliced, divided
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
1/4 tsp Chinese five-spice powder

Season beef with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high.  Add ginger and mushrooms and stir 3 minutes.  Add beef and stir until it browns but is still pink in the center, about 1 minute.  Add snow peas, half of cilantro and half of green onions; stir-fry 1 minute.  Stir in hoisin, chili-garlic sauce, and Chinese five-spice powder.  Saute until peas are crisp tender, 1 to 2 minutes.  Season to taste.  Sprinkle with remaining cilantro and green onions.