Monday, April 29, 2013

Wonderful Sticky Buns

Catagory: Breads
Difficulty: Easy-Medium (because they have to rise overnight)

Went to a farm today for a ladies' brunch. There were about 15 women there.  The farmhouse was a lovely Victorian-style home surrounded by well-kempt chickens and donkeys and sunflowers planted in rows. The air was fresh and cool. We got to scratch and pet the donkeys--who really are just people with hooves. The chickens reminded me of women in groups. They are very chatty. And whenever a new person comes to their pen they waddle over to that person in rapt expectation of being fed.  Our hostess, Carrie, was one of many people who fed us chicks this morning. She made these terrific Sticky Buns that tasted like cinnamon love and carmelized joy. We indulged...happily cackling to ourselves and each other.

Ingredients:

1 C brown sugar
1 C  unsalted butter plus 3 T butter
1 C chopped pecans
1 Bridgeford Bread dough log--partially thawed
1/2 C white sugar
6 t cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven to 200 degrees and turn off. Put Bridgeford Bread dough log in a greased bread pan, cover loosely and let rise 45 minutes in the oven. Meanwhile in an 9X9-inch (preferably Pyrex) pan, sprinkle 1 C brown sugar. Drizzle 1 C melted unsalted butter on top of sugar. Sprinkle 1 C chopped pecans over all. Set aside. Take bread dough out of oven and set on a clean surface sprinkled with 2 T flour.  Roll out the thawed Bridgeford Bread dough into something close to a rectangle. Spread evenly on top of rectangle: 3 T melted butter, 1/2 C white sugar, then 6 t cinnamon. Roll dough up like a jelly roll, and pinch the ends. Cut into about 12 (pinwheel) slices about 1"to 1 1/2" thick. Pinch the end of each pinwheel so that the filling doesn't get out while they bake. Place pinwheels on top of sugar/butter/cinnamon mixture in Pyrex pan. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in the refrigerator overnight or until the dough has doubled in volume. Bake at 330 degrees for about 30 minutes until done. Loosen edges and invert onto serving plate.
Eat with coffee or tea and cackle!







 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quinoa Salad








Category: Salads
Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Healthiest

I am writing this in 2013 when 4 food items are in vogue: quinoa (a brown rice-like grain), fava beans, faro, and edamames. If you don't know what they are please look them up on the internet.  I LOVE quinoa! However... there are some people who don't like it.  I call it "Quinoaphobia". It usually hits those that haven't tried it. They stare at the grain and gasp "What IS that?". Then they run away. You can see them tearing down the street ...hair streaming behind them yelling "Nooooooo
Quinooooaaaawww!" It's not that it looks bad--it's nice looking, it's just that it's...new. Except red quinoa. Red quinoa is a little scarey.

So the question is: are you adventurous enough to eat quinoa?

It makes a dandy salad. This one is very like a traditional Tabbouleh salad in taste --but with lovely rice-like quinoa as a base. Common Sense Tip: Quinoa packs a lot of protein! So it will fortifye you instead of making you want to take a nap. When it's a salad it's very wet. Serve it in a pretty bowl lined with lettuce-leaves or as individual servings in lettuce-leaf cups. Use it as a lacto-ovo vegetarian lunch--low fat and relatively inexpensive.Yield: Feeds about 5 as a side dish.

Ingredients:

1 C quinoa (dry)
2 C water
2 C sliced grape tomatoes
1 chopped--peeled cucumber
1/2 C sliced kalmata olives
3/4 C crumbled Feta cheese
1 1/2 T olive oil
1/2 lemon--juiced
1 t oregano (if you don't like oregano--use basil)
1 t salt
1/4 t pepper

Combine quinoa and water in a saucepan. Boil. Reduce heat, simmer 15 minutes--until all water is absorbed. Combine vegies, add quinoa and tomatoes and herbs. Mix well. Add olive oil, lemon, and sprinkle feta on top. Toss and chill overnight or at least 4 hours before serving.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tabbouleh...

Category: Fruits and Vegetables
Difficulty: Easy
Healthy

My mother used to run. When I was around 12 she started running up and down the roads of Portola Valley. For fun and for health. Soon the whole nation was running! To this day I am convinced mom started it. Just like Al Gore invented the internet.

Eventually the whole family started to run. My sister, her husband Tad, my husband Alan, mom and I started running in races like "Bay To Breakers" and "Wharf To Wharf".  Alan and I wore matching shirts that my sister Laura made for us and very tiny shorts that would NOT fit us now. Races were like parties--we talked to people as we jogged. Smiled at the very fit naked gay guys wearing singlets. Ho-Hum. Well, at least they had good bodies...

 After runnning the race (badly) the Shelby family and our family would have gourmet food and lots of wine and beer. It was fun! So fun that I think the only reason Alan ran was to be able to go to the picnic afterwards! Here's one of the utterly delicious recipes...it's inexpensive and keeps beautifully!

This is originally from the Oakland- East Bay Junior League Cookbook called "California Fresh". Pine nuts are very pricey...and not necessary...but you can put them in if you wish! Yield: serves 8-10

Ingredients:

 Dressing:
1/2 /C olive oil
6 T fresh lemon juice
1/4 /c loosely packed chopped fresh mint leaves
1/4 C loosely packed chopped fresh parsley
3 chopped green onion white parts ( including about an inch of each green portion)
1/2 t minced garlic
3/4 t cumin
3/4 t salt
1/4 t ground pepper

Salad:
1 C bulger wheat ( such as Kasha )
1/2 C boiling water
1/2 C pine nuts (optional)
2 medium tomatoes seeded and finely chopped or 8 oz. "grape tomatoes" sliced in half

Directions:
Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl with a whisk. Set aside. Add boiling water to bulger and stir to moisten evenly. Immediately stir in dressing, optional nuts, and tomatoes. Set aside for at least 8 hours or refrigerate overnight to allow"vulgar bulger" to soften and absorb dressing. To serve...line a serving bowl with romaine lettuce and fill  with tabbouleh. OR-- serve it in a large "sand-pile" mountain on a platter. Garnish with fresh mint leaves . You can always opt to cut a few extra tomatoes into "flowers" and put them in the midst of randomly placed bunches of  fresh mint leaves around the edge as well.  Just don't let the stems of the mint show!

Note: Keeps well several days in the refrigerator














California Organic Salad...


Catagory: Fruits and Vegetables
Difficulty: Easy
Very Healthy

We are so blessed to be in California. Home of fresh organic vegetables and fruits. When we visited Iowa in winter a few years ago, our daughter Lauren started going into "Fresh Vegetable Withdrawal Syndrome".  It is marked by a certain panting noise as the infected person scrambles to find a green bell pepper at a nearby Target to eat whole. Which is what she did.

This salad is one fresh example of California's riches Part of it's appeal is that it's was so darn pretty! The other secret was that it's ingredients are fresh and organic.  Really... I know it's expensive... but it just makes sense to buy pesticide-free. For one thing...they do taste better. And I mean...why would you want to put things in your body that have had bug spray on them or in them? Yucky!

Ingredients:

mixed organic lettuces (at least 15 oz.)
4 avocados
8 small vine-ripened tomatoes cut in quarters
2 washed and sliced English cucumbers
Feta cheese ( 6 oz. --crumbled)
red bell peppers (siced very thin)

Directions:

Wash...dry and crisp lettuces if they aren't pre-washed. Put in a large bowl or pile on a platter. Arrange on top the tomato quarters...the sliced cucumbers ...the red bell peppers...the avocadoes and sprinkle with crumbled Feta. Toss right before serving on individual plates or putting on the buffet table. Have dressing available in small bowls with spoons or in cruets:

Tahini Bottled dressing (in the refrigerated section of New Leaf)
OR
Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil  (just whisk together equal parts with a pinch of salt and drizzle over the salad after it's on the plate).


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Greco Casserole-- Great for Potlucks!

Catagory: Main Dishes
Difficulty: Easy-Medium (chopping and boiling involved)
Almost But Not Super Healthy


The mainstay of most working mom's freezers is the all-mighty casserole. OK pizza is a mainstay too. But casseroles freeze well and taste great when re-heated. It's also easy and inexpensive to serve at Potlucks. I am a Christian, yup, an unapologetic Jesus Freak. Christians go to a lot of Potlucks. There is no meeting without eating! In fact studies have shown that the average newly-wed couple gains 12 lbs in their first year of wedded bliss because of Potluck parties. This very traditional potluck casserole has been popular since the 1960's. My mom used to make it and us kidlets loved it! It's also called "More" casserole in some cookbooks due to the fact that everyone who tastes it always want more! 2014 Update: Make it with non-GMO organic corn--OK?

Ingredients:

2 lbs ground beef ( you can try ground turkey but it won't taste as good)
1/3 C chopped onion
3/4 C chopped green pepper
2 6-oz. cans tomato paste
1 can corn
one small can stewed tomatoes (or peel 3 fresh and quarter them)
1 t sugar
2 t salt
2 t chili powder
1/2 t garlic salt
pepper to taste
8 oz. egg noodles or shell pasta
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese (medium sharp)

Directions:

Cook beef and green pepper in skillet until beef is brown and crumbly. Drain off oil. Mix rest of ingredients in a bowl and add them to skillet and simmer. Bring all to a boil and add noodles. Cook with top off until noodles are done. Put in a greased cassserole. Cover with shredded cheddar and keep oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve hot and cheesy!









Saturday, April 13, 2013

Anzac Cookies...

Catagory:Cookies
Difficulty: Easy
Oh Forget Being Healthy Today!

Napa is a wonder of great restaurants and cute shops. It can be very romantic.We stumbled on a great section of the historic part of town that included "Sweetie Pie's Bakery".  Oh man. This bakery had amazing platter-sized cookies...voluptuous cupcakes...lavish layer cakes and luscious pies.  However, we picked out this humble cookie because we love oatmeal. "What's an ANZAC?" We said. Biting into it--we were not disappointed. An ANZAC is a very chewy and deliciously sweet oatmeal cookie. Looking it up on the Internet, I found they're named ANZAC because that's the abbreviation for Australian and New Zealand (military) Corps. Apparently women used to send them to their sweetheart soliders who fought in the war. I found several recipes from "Down Under" online. This was the best. Yield: 12 huge cookies (5" in diameter)

Ingredients:

1 C oats (Quick Oats are best)
1 C coconut (the no-sugar kind)
1 C flour
1/2 C sugar
1/2 C brown sugar (don't pack)
4 oz. butter (one stick)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl. Melt 1 stick butter in saucepan...add 2 T corn syrup. Dissolve soda in water...add to butter mixture. Don't worry if it froths a bit. It should. Measure in 1/3 C measure scoops onto a parch-ment lined pan. Make into a ball then squash with the heel of your hand. Bake 10-12 minutes until just light brown.

Note: If you have no unsugared shredded coconut in your town...you can always put your "Angel Flake" into a colander the night before you make the cookies...run cold water through it for a few minutes to wash off the sugar and oil ...and let it dry on paper towels for the next day's baking.



Friday, April 12, 2013

Carol Lawless's Curried Chicken Salad...

Catagory: Main Dish
Difficulty: Medium (lots of chopping--really easy if you use a Rotisserie Chicken)
Sorta Healthy-- has lots of vegetables!

This was one of two salads served at my daughter's fabulous wedding shower put on by Carol Lawless in 2011. As we entered her garden we were treated to a view of 3 tables set up outside with a green arched canopy over all. Glorious roses bloomed pink and red in the garden. Our hostesses' wedding china gleamed on white tablecloths with green linen napkins. The weather was perfect as we sipped lemonade and basked in Carol's beautiful hospitality. The food was a divine gift from heaven.

Most of the time Curried Chicken is rawther sodden. Gloppy. It's delish...but it hits your stomach like a ton of bricks. This salad is different. The head of cabbage lightens the whole thing up! Do try it for your next outdoor party. It's a winner.

Ingredients:

Salad:
4 baked ckinless/boneless chopped chicken breasts--season with Garlic Salt and/or Lemon Pepper before baking OR using 1 Costco Rotisserie Chicken or 2 regular size Rotisserie Chickens.
1 head Napa cabbage, finely chopped
1 bunch green onions,  finely chopped
1/2 C raisins (can use both dark and golden if you like)
1/2 C roasted/salted sunflower seeds
1 bag Croutons (your choice of flavor--I use garlic/butter flavor)

Dressing:
1 C Best Foods or Trader Joe's Real Mayonnaise
2 T Apple Cider Vinegar
2 T honey
Garlic Salt
Lemon Pepper
a few daches of Worcestershire sauce
a few drops green Habanera sauce
2 Tablespoons Curry powder ( yes...LOTS)
1 T milk

Whisk together dressing ingredients in a small bowl in the order shown. Layer salad  ingredients in a large bowl and toss with dressing  ONLY when ready to sit down and eat--to keep salad crisp.




Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Ginger-Peanut Chicken-Salad Wraps











Catagory: Chicken
Difficulty Rating: Easy to Medium (depending on if you cook your own chicken or not)
Healthiest

It is now Indian Summer in Santa Cruz County. Often our hottest time of year. It was so hot for my daughter's wedding in October last year that my polyester zipper almost melted! We couldn't get it open!  No problem--we sewed me into the dress after breaking the zipper. Finally evening came with cool breezes and tall glasses of iced lemon water. Perhaps it's a hot evening for you tonight? How about something refreshing....like salad? This tastes like Chinese Chicken Salad in a tortilla . It's got so many vegetables--it's a one dish meal! Common Sense Tip: use a cooked rotisserie chicken from Costco or another store instead of making your own. From "Cooking Light" magazine, I don't know what year.Yield: 8 wraps. 280 calories each...

Note: You can substitute a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken (Costco?) instead of cooking your own. That makes it really easy!

Ingredients:

1 t olive oil
24 oz. cooked chicken (rotisserie chicken or saute 4 chicken breasts with a sprinkle of salt until done)
1 C chopped seeded peeled cucumber
3/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 1/2 T sugar
1 T minced peeled ginger
3 T minced peeled fresh ginger
3 T fresh lime juice
1 T low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 t ground pepper
1  crushed garlic clove
1/4 C creamy peanut butter
2 T water
3 T chopped fresh cilantro
8 (8-inch) GF tortillas or large iceberg lettuce leaves
4 C chopped romaine lettuce

Directions:

Shred cooked or packaged sliced chicken into bite-sized pieces. Toss chicken...cucumber...and bell pepper together in a large bowl; set aside. Place the sugar and the next 6 ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.Add peanut butter and water; process till smooth. Scrape sides. Add to bowl with chicken mixture;stir well. Add cilantro and toss. Warm tortillas according to package directions...or just use cold. Spoon 1/2 C chicken mixture into each tortilla and top each with 1/2 C lettuce; roll up like a burrito. If you elect to use lettuce leaves instead of tortillas--carefully roll the lettuce leaf around the chicken mix like a burrito without the extra lettuce topper. Serve with tall glasses of something cold!














Friday, April 5, 2013

Steak with Wine and Mushroom Sauce


Category: Main Dishes
Difficulty Rating: Medium
Not Very Healthy Atall

This is the answer to the question: "What would my husband like for dinner on his birthday?" Most men love steak. It sort of appeals to something deep and primative inside. My husband is almost half Viking in ancestry. The only thing better than eating meat on his birthday would be going out and pillaging a hapless village somewhere.

Something this rich and this good should be saved for special occasions. The sauce is a fabulous recipe by itself.  It can only be improved by one thing: a light sprinkle of blue cheese on the top. Ooooooo!

This makes a lot of sauce, so there will be enough to serve on top of 4 New York steaks if you have a larger group. Yield: 2 servings (with sauce leftover to freeze)

Ingredients:

5 T unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
2 12-oz ribeye or New York steaks
Salt and pepper to taste (sea-salt or kosher salt is best, but not mandatory)
2 shallots, minced (or substitute 1/3 C minced yellow onion)
1 lb. cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 C red wine
1 C chicken stock
2 t corn starch mixed with 1T of water
2 T sherry
2 T chopped parsley and/or 2 t blue cheese

Heat skillet to a medium-high heat. Add 1 T butter, oil and shallots; cook for 1 minute. Add sliced mushrooms; cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add red wine; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook until syrupy; 8-10 minutes. Add stock; reduce heat slightly and cook 4-5 minutes. Whisk in cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil. Add sherry; cook until thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in remaining butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Grill or broil steaks until done to your taste.
Put on plates and pour sauce over the top then garnish with chopped parsley and/or 1/2 t crumbled blue cheese per steak. Serve with roasted or smashed potatoes!



Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Lamb Chops with Cilantro-Mint Sauce








Category: Main Dish
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Healthy

This recipe is so quick and good! It's got that lip-smacking tang that makes you want more and more. Common Sense Tips: Lamb is expensive...so be sure and  get the chops at your local Big Box Store in spring when they're almost reasonable. Also, you won't need more fresh ginger root than a piece the size of your thumb even if you double the recipe. DO double the sauce recipe and freeze some for later! You will want some for another night. My daughter found this--it's by Wolfgang Puck. Yield: 8 chops (serves 4)

Ingredients:

 2 t minced fresh ginger
1/4 C packed fresh mint leaves
1/4 C packed fresh cilantro leaves
1 T honey
1/4 C rice wine vinegar
1/2 C canola or other mild vegetable oil
8 rib lamb chops--up to 3/4-inch thick--or regular lamb chops
Fresh mint and cilantro for garnish

Directions:

In a food processor fitted with the metal blade combine all of the marinade ingredients and process until completely blended and smooth. Taste and adjust the seasonings accordingly.  Place the lamb chops in a re-sealable plastic bag and pour in 1/4 C of the marinade. Turn the lamb in the bag to coat it evenly. Close the bag and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours--turning once or twice. Refrigerate the remaining marinade to use as a sauce. Grill chops. Place lamb chops on serving plates and criss-cross the ends if you used rib chops. Spoon the remaining refrigerated sauce over the top and garnish with mint or cilantro leaves. Scrumptious!






Wedding Mac N' Cheese...

Catagory: Side Dish
Difficulty Rating: Medium-Hard (lots of pans)
Not Healthy At All!

Recently, I helped out at Lindsay Stover's wedding and had the best Macaroni and Cheese I have ever tasted. Pam, the caterer, served a variation of Wolfgang Puck's CUT steakhouse version. I couldn't stop eating it. There I was, supposed to be helping and I was EATING instead. After I recovered from my carbo high, I asked  Lindsay and her mom Cindy to ask for the recipe. Pam was nice enough to share it.

Well, I have to tell 'ya this recipe was a flop the first time I made it. Why? I just didn't have the right cheese combination. I had used a pricey Irish cheddar that was just ...too mild. I needed a fierce cheddar. My daughter (bless her) suggested Cracker Barrel Aged Cheddar in the black packaging.   If you use this cheese, unlike many gourmet Mac N' Cheese recipes, it's not horribly expensive. Hurray! I did add half cup of shredded mozzerella at the end to create a little more gooey instead of silky texture. I also used Panko instead of brioche bread crumbs...but you can use what you want!  Yield: 4- 5 servings of Mac N' Cheese. Double or quadruple this recipe to feed more people! Freezes well!

Ingredients:

8 oz. elbow macaroni (you can also use a small-size penne or cavatappi)
3 T unsalted butter--plus more for greasing the baking dish
3 T all-purpose flour (or a gluten-free blend if you use GF pasta)
1 small bay leaf
1/2 medium white onion (sliced)
3 1/2 C whole milk
1 t sea salt or table salt (add more to adjust to taste after you add the cheese)
1 t. black pepper ( I used 1/2 t)
1 oz.Parmesan
10 oz. shredded Cracker Barrel Aged Cheddar (black label)
3 oz.shredded Gruyere
Optional:  1/2 C shredded mozzerella cheese (add at the last minute)
1 C Panko bread crumbs or brioche crumbs (smashed Saltine cracker crumbs work in a pinch)
Optional: Truffle oil

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. In a large pot cook elbow or penne macaroni following directions on the package until al dente. While pasta is cooking use a  2 quart saucepan over medium heat to melt the 3 T butter. Stir in the flour until blended --about 1 minute. Add the bay leaf and sliced onion. Slowly whisk in the milk until smooth. Simmer whisking occasionally until the mixture starts to thicken for about 7 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and onion at this point--or you will be SORRY. Bay leaf  has a very strong taste! Simmer and whisk for another 7 minutes until mixture is as thick. Sauce should be creamy...not grainy. If it's grainy, throw it all out and do it again!  Whisk it more often on the second try.  Remove from the heat and stir in 3/4 C of the aged Cheddar, Gruyere and Parmesan until melted. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. At this point the pasta is probably done. Drain the water by putting it in a colander run cool water through it and set aside.

Put the drained macaroni back into the  pot you boiled it in... fold the cheese sauce into it then add the 1/2 C mozzarella if you decide you want to use it.  It's not good for the mozzerella to completely melt into the sauce like the other cheeses at this point. But if it does...it's OK. Transfer to a 9X12" or 1 qt. greased baking dish.  Sprinkle with Panko or brioche bread crumbs and remaining cheddar cheese. Drizzle (optional) truffle oil over the top. Bake until the crumbs are golden and the cheese is bubbly--about 30 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.