Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Quick and Easy Chicken Stir Fry

A couple of months ago I was looking for a kid-friendly chicken recipe and did a google search. I found the basics for a stir-fry and added my own style to it and this is what I came up with. It is very simple and quick. This chicken stir fry recipe does not have any vegetables in it, because I find many kids like to keep their vegetables and main course separate. If your family enjoys all-in-one meals, by all means, add some red pepper, snow peas, broccoli and/or mushrooms to this stir fry chicken recipe.

Quick and Easy Chicken Stir Fry

1 lb. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/3 c Cornstarch

¼ c Soy Sauce
½ c Orange Marmalade
1 T Garlic, Minced
1 t Ginger, minced or 2t Ground Ginger
¼ t Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

2 tsp. Canola or Vegetable oil

Place chicken breast pieces in a gallon-size zip-top plastic bag. Add cornstarch. Toss to coat.

In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, orange marmalade, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Heat wok over high heat.
Heat canola oil and add chicken.
Stir-fry until the chicken is no longer pink.

Pour the sauce over the chicken. Stir-fry to coat the chicken.

Serve immediately with hot rice.

Serves 4

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

My father loves bread pudding and I seemed to inherit the taste. One Thanksgiving I was making bread pudding and I saw a canned of pumpkin in the cabinet and decided to give it a try. This is a great fall treat, but I love it all year long.

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 c Heavy Cream
½ c Milk
1 15-ounce Can Pure Pumpkin
1 cup (packed) plus 2T Brown Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 ½ t Ground Cinnamon
½ t Ground Nutmeg
¼ t Ground Ginger
1/8 t Ground Allspice
¼ t Salt
1/8 t Ground Cloves
1 ½ t Vanilla Extract

1 Loaf Cinnamon Swirl Bread or Raisin Bread
½ c Raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F

Cut bread into 1/2 inch cubes, set aside.
Whisk heavy cream, milk, pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice, salt cloves and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend.

Fold in bread cubes.
Stir in golden raisins.

Transfer mixture to 11x7-inch glass baking dish.
Let stand 15 minutes.

Bake pumpkin bread pudding 40 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

When I lived in California I was a vegetarian and did not eat any processed foods. I love roasted peppers and sweet potatoes so I came up with a wonderful combination of the two. I eat this as my main course with some crusty bread, but it is also good as a first course.

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

1 T olive oil
1 lg Onion, peeled and chopped (2 cups)
2 Garlic cloves; crushed (Tip: using the side of a chef knife, smash garlic for easy peeling)
1 ½ lb sweet potatoes; (6 cups) peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
6 c vegetable stock or water
2 Sprigs fresh thyme; up to 3
3 lg red bell peppers
2 T fresh lemon juice
1t cayenne pepper; to taste
1t salt and freshly ground
½ t black pepper

2 T Yogurt or Sour Cream for garnish
1 sm spri fresh thyme; for garnish

Preheat broiler.

In large pot, heat oil over medium heat.
Add onion and garlic; cover and cook over medium-low heat, until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add sweet potatoes, stir well; cover and cook 10 minutes.
Add stock or water and thyme; bring to a boil.
Reduce heat, cover and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, Place peppers (whole, with stem intact on cookie sheet)
Tip: I like to cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean-up.
Place pan under broiler, turning with tongs until charred all over, about 10 minutes.
Place peppers in a glass bowl covered with plastic wrap, let sit for approx 20 mins
When peppers are cool enough to handle, remove charred skins, stem, seeds and ribs.

Discard thyme sprigs from soup.
Puree soup and roasted bell peppers until smooth.
Tip: I use a hand held mixture to puree soup. You can also transfer soup to a blender or food processor.
Gently reheat soup
Add lemon juice, cayenne, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle soup into warmed bowls and garnish each serving with a
swirl of yogurt or sour cream and several small sprigs of thyme.

Tip: This soup also freezes very well, just be careful with the amount of pepper you use, as it tends to become spicier the long the soup has to meld.

Makes 8 servings

Thursday, April 22, 2010

AJ’s Meatloaf

Growing up we never had meatloaf because my father did not like it, so I did not discover it was one of my favorite comfort foods until a couple of years ago.  I got a recipe from a friend's grandmother and tweaked it a little to my liking and this is what I came up with.  I like it best with creamy mashed potatoes and gravy.

AJ’s Meatloaf

2 t Tabasco Sauce
½ c Ketchup

2 lbs Ground Beef
1 lb Italian Sausage, casings removed and crumbled
1 c Onions, chopped
3 Garlic cloves, Minced
2 c Bread Crumbs
½ c Red Wine
3 eggs, slightly beaten
3 T Worcestershire Sauce
2 t Dried Basil
2 t Dried Oregano
1 ½ t Salt
1 t Ground Pepper
½ t Allspice

Preheat oven to 350°F

Lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan

Mix together Tabasco sauce and Ketchup

Mix together all remaining ingredients in a large bowl
Place mixture in loaf pan
Spread Ketchup mixture on top of meatloaf

Bake 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted in center registers 155°F.

  • For moist meat loaf do not use lean ground beef.
  • You can substitute meatloaf mixture for the ground beef if you like (1 lb ground Beef, ½ pound ground Pork, ½ pound ground Veal).
  • If you want the meatloaf to have a kick, you can use spicy Italian Sausage.
  • I prefer to use a stoneware or glass loaf pan, if you use a metal one, check after 45 minutes to make sure it does not dry up.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Homemade Hummus

When I was a vegetarian, I lived on Hummus sandwiches. I now serve it with toasted pita wedges. This recipe uses orange juice instead of olive oil. Not only does it give it a nice citrus flavor, it is a great low-fat alternative to regular hummus.

Homemade Hummus

1 Large can Garbanzo Beans / Chick Peas
½ t Cumin, ground
¼ t Coriander, ground
¼ t Ginger, ground
¼ t Dry Mustard
¼ t Turmeric
¼ t Paprika
½ t Salt
3 Large Garlic Cloves
¼ c Tahini (sesame seed paste)
1-2 t Apple Cider Vinegar
1 – 2 t soy sauce
½ c Orange Juice

Puree all ingredients in large food processor until smooth.

Makes 2 cups

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pesto Stuffed with Mushrooms

I came up with the recipe about 15 years ago and it has become my go to recipe when I need to take an appetizer to a party. I prefer to make my own pesto, but you can use store bought pesto in a pinch.

Pesto Stuffed with Mushrooms

12 Large Mushrooms
1 small lemon
½ c Fresh pesto (recipe below)
1/3 c Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Remove mushrooms stems, rinse and pat dry

Roll lemon to release juices, cut in half
Rub mushroom caps with lemon half

Place mushroom caps in casserole or roasting pan

Using a funnel or spoon, fill mushrooms with pesto
Top with parmesan cheese

Bake for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and pesto is bubbly

Makes 12 mushrooms

Fresh Basil Pesto

2 c Packed Fresh Basil leaves, stems removed
½ c Pine Nuts
3 Large Garlic Cloves
½ t Salt
¾ c Parmesan Cheese, freshly grated
2/3 c Olive Oil
2 T Lemon Juice

In a large food processor add basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt and parmesan cheese
Puree until mixture is smooth, about 3-4 minutes

Add Lemon Juice and puree for 1 minute

While the processor is on the blend setting, slowly add the olive oil until it is absorbed into the mixture.

Makes 1 cup

Refrigerate until use in tightly sealed container. Keeps fresh for about 2 weeks. Can be frozen for 1-2 months.

Gingerbread Pancakes

Although I rarely eat it in the morning, breakfast foods are one of my favorites. I love these gingerbread pancakes and prefer them topped with applesauce over syrup.

Gingerbread Pancakes

2 ½ c All Purpose Flour
1t Baking Powder
1t Baking Soda
½ t Salt
1 ½t Ground Cinnamon
1 ½ t Ground Ginger
1 ½ t Ground Nutmeg
1/8 -1/4 t Ground Cloves

3 Eggs
¼ c Brown Sugar, firmly packed

1c Butter Milk (substitute 1c milk with 3T vinegar)
1c Water
1/2c Brewed Coffee
¼ c butter, melted

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and cloves, set aside

In a separate bowl, combine eggs and sugar, beating well
Add buttermilk, water, coffee and butter, mix well.

Make a well in the dry ingredients and slowly add buttermilk mixture
Stir just until moistened, batter will be slightly lumpy

Using a hot, greased griddle, pour approx ¼ c batter for each pancake.
Turn pancakes with tops are covered with bubbles and edges appear slightly dry.

Makes 16 pancakes

Monday, April 19, 2010

Chicken Cordon Blue

This is one of my sister’s favorites and I made it last week for her birthday. The prep is a little labor intensive but well worth it.

Chicken Cordon Blue

1/4c Chicken Broth
5t Butter, melted
1 large garlic clove, minced

1/2c Dry Breadcrumbs
1T Parmesan cheese, grated
1t Paprika

4 Chicken breasts – If they are large I use only two and split in half
1/4t Salt
1/4t Oregano, dried
1/4t Black Pepper, ground
8 Slices Ham, sliced thin
8 Slices Swiss cheese, sliced thin

Preheat oven to 350°

Place broth in a small microwave-safe bowl; microwave at high 15 seconds or until warm.
Stir in melted butter and garlic.

Combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and paprika in a medium shallow bowl; set aside.

Pound Chicken Breasts to ¼ inch thick.
Tip – Best to place chicken between plastic wrap when pounding, this will prevent it from splitting.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt, oregano, and pepper.
Top each breast half with 2 slices of ham and 2 slices of swiss cheese
Roll up each breast half jelly-roll fashion.
Dip each roll in chicken broth mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Place rolls, seam side down, in an 8-inch square baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Pour remaining broth mixture over chicken.

Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear and tops are golden.

Serves 4

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Caramel Fudge Pecan Cups

This is my favorite sweet. I make them every year for the holidays and give them away as gifts. They always get a great response. I first created this recipe as a pie, but it was too rich, so I decided to make it into bite sized pieces.

Caramel Fudge Pecan Cups

1 1/2 cups Butter
1 1/2 cups Brown Sugar
3/4 cup Corn Syrup

1/4 cup + 4 Tablespoons Whipping Cream
6 cups Pecan Halves
4 Ounces Unsweetened Chocolate (chopped)

5 Boxes Athens Mini Phyllo Shells (box of 15 shells)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine Butter, Brown Sugar and Corn Syrup in heavy medium saucepan.
Bring to boil, stirring often. Boil 1 minute.

Stir in Whipping Cream , Chocolate and Nuts.
Boil until mixture thickens slightly, about 3 minutes.

Remove from heat.
Spoon mixture into Phyllo cups

Tip - To minimize the mess,  I spoon the mixture into the phyllo cups while the cups are still in the plastic tray, then transfer to a cookie sheet. 

Bake until filling bubbles all over, about 10 minutes.

Makes 75 / 6 dozen

Chicken Piccata

This is one of my signature dishes. In fact, I only ever make it for special occasions. It was usually the first meal I would make for someone I was dating, although they had to be special. I used to joke with my friends about whether the guy was “Chicken Piccata” worthy or not.

Chicken Piccata

4 Chicken breasts – If they are large I use only two and split in half

1/3 c Flour
1 ½ t Garlic Powder
½ t White Pepper
½ t Salt

6T Butter
6T Olive Oil

1c Dry White Wine (I prefer a dry Chardonnay)
3-4T Capers
2T Lemon Juice

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Pound Chicken Breasts to ¼ inch thick.
Tip – Best to place chicken between plastic wrap when pounding, this will prevent it from splitting.

Mix Flour, Garlic Powder, White Pepper and Salt in a shallow bowl or plate
Dredge Chicken Breasts in flour mixture

In an oven safe pan, heat oil and butter
Brown chicken breasts about 2 minutes per side
Remove chicken from pan

Add Wine, Capers and Lemon Juice to pan with remaining Butter and Oil
Bring to Boil

Add brown chicken back in pan and place in oven

Tip: If you do not have an oven safe sauté pan, use sauté pan and then place chicken in shallow baking pan and pour the sauce over the chicken.

Cook in 350 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Serve over buttered noodles or rice.

Serves 4

Friday, April 16, 2010

Scallops ala Alli

Tonight I had a seafood craving so I talked mom into buying some scallops. I changed up a bit of an old recipe and here is how it turned out.

Scallops ala Alli

2t Olive Oil
2t Butter
1t Garlic, minced
1 1/2 lbs Scallops
4t Capers
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t Pepper
1c Dry Vermouth
5oz This Spaghetti or Angel Hair
4T Chopped Basil

Bring 5 cups of salted water to boil. Add pasta to boiling water. Cook 10 minutes.

Dry Scallops with paper towel.
Heat oil, butter and garlic in medium saute pan.
Sauté Scallops in butter and oil - 3 minutes for each side.
Add capers, salt, pepper and vermouth.
Bring to boil and simmer for 2 minutes.

Sprinkle with Basil and serve over pasta.

Serves 4

We had it with steamed asparagus and it was delicious.