Saturday, January 24, 2009

Seared Chicken with Squash Quesadilla

A friend in Seattle saw this on Martha Stewart, and her little boy who was watching with her insisted that they make it that very night. She shared the recipe with me, and it became an instant hit. I have made this so many times, I now have to let some time elapse in-between so it can seem fresh to me again. (I usually make just the quesadillas, which is a meatless meal, but the chicken is good as well.)

2 T. e.v. olive oil
1 butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced crosswise into 1/4" slices
salt and pepper to taste
red pepper flakes
4 chicken breasts
2 T. plus 1/4 t. garlic, minced
1 lime, cut into 8 slices
1 t. unsalted butter
1/4 t. ground cumin
juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced into rounds
8 oz. goat cheese
6 12" tortillas
2 sprigs cilantro (I use much more)

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle 1 1/2 t. olive oil on a baking sheet. Place the squash pieces on top. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Roast until fork tender, about 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile prepare the chicken; season with salt and pepper. Place 1/4 t. garlic and 2 slices of lime under the tender of each breast. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and 1 t. olive oil. Place the chicken in the skillet, tender-side up. Add the remaining 1 T. minced garlic, cumin and the juice from half a lime to the pan. Cook until firm and golden brown, about 6 minutes per side; after the first 6 minutes, squeeze the remaining lime half over the chicken and turn.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, cook the jalapeno slices for 4 minutes on each side. Set aside. Prepare the quesadillas: arrange squash slices on half of tortillas, top with jalapeno slices, goat cheese and cilantro. Heat until cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Stuffed French Toast

This is a fancy French toast that I have made a few times for Father's Day. (because I don't actually like French toast, but Marc loves it)

8 oz. cream cheese
1/4 c. peach preserves
1 t. vanilla
1/4 c. chopped walnuts (I use pecans)
2 T. Bailey's Irish cream, optional
8 slices Texas-style thick bread
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. orange juice
1/2 c. puréed and strained frozen raspberries
1/4 c. light corn syrup
2 T. water
1 T. cornstarch
3 large eggs, beaten
3/4 c. half and half
1 T. vanilla
1 T. Frangelico liqueur, optional
1/4 c. vegetable oil
fresh fruit, such as apple slices or grapes
powdered sugar
mint leaves for garnish

Make filling by combining cream cheese, peach preserves, a teaspoon of vanilla, nuts, and Irish cream. Beat until smooth.

To make sauce, place apple and orange juices and raspberries in a pan. Add corn syrup and simmer gently. Combine water and cornstarch; add to saue and cook until slightly thickened. Set aside.

Spread filling on half of bread slices and top with remaining slices.

Combine eggs, half and half, vanilla and liqueur. Dip bread in egg mixture, completely covering, but do not soak.

Heat oil in a nonstick sauté pan, and cook bread until brown. Keep warm while browning remaining slices.

To serve, cut French toast diagonally in quarters. Pour a little sauce on each plate and stand toast wedges upright around the sauce. Arrange fruit on plate. Lightly sprinkle toast with powdered sugar, and garnish with mint leaves.

Marc's easy pizza crust

Marc has made some crazy-time-intensive pizzas out of the California Pizza Kitchen cookbook. They are delicious, but for a quick weeknight dinner, we stick to his fast and easy crust. (again, I watched him once and forced him to approximate a recipe)

1 cube of fresh active yeast (he learned to make this on his mission -- these are about 1/2 oz., so I think we use about a tablespoon of dry yeast)
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
3 T. olive oil

Place yeast in a large bowl and add warm water and sugar. Stir with a fork to dissolve and let sit for about 5 minutes. Add salt and olive oil and stir. Add enough flour to form a thick dough. Knead lightly to mix and form into a ball.

Oil and flour pizza pan (or sprinkle cornmeal). Press ball of dough in center and press out to the edges.

Bake about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven.

Three favorite easy pizzas:

-- Spread barbecue sauce on your crust. Top with diced or shredded chicken, green pepper, red onion, and monterey jack cheese.

-- Spread sweet chili sauce on your crust. Top with diced or shredded chicken, red onion, and other veggies like sweet peppers and/or bean sprouts, peanuts, and mozzarella. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro after baking.

-- Make a simple sauce with tomato paste, a little bit of milk and crushed red pepper flakes. Top with sliced fresh tomatoes, then add sautéed onion and bell pepper. Top with pineapple and mozzarella.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Flank Steak and Blue Cheese Quesadilla Salad

3 T. Dijon-lemon vinaigrette
1 1/2 T. sugar
1 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. chopped fresh thyme (optional)

1/2 lb. flank steak
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
cooking spray
1/2 c. (2 oz.) crumbled blue cheese
4 8" flour tortillas

remaining ingredients:
1 head torn red leaf lettuce
1 c. vertically sliced red onion
2 large tomatoes, each cut into 8 wedges

1. Prepare grill.

2. Combine vinaigrette ingredients; set aside.

3. To prepare quesadillas, sprinkle steak with salt and pepper. Place steak on grill rack and grill 4 minutes on each side or until done. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices.

Sprinkle cheese evenly over 2 tortillas. Divide steak evenly over cheese, and top with remaining tortillas.

4. Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over med. heat. Cook quesadillas 4 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pan and cut each quesadilla into 8 wedges.

Combine vinaigrette, lettuce, onion, and tomato in a large bowl; toss well. Divide salad evenly among 4 plates; top each serving with 4 quesadilla wedges.

{Dijon-lemon vinaigrette:
3 T. vegetable broth or water
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 t. minced garlic
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. salt

Combine all ingredients in a jar; cover tightly and shake vigorously. Store in refrigerator.}

Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Salad

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 c. corn kernels (fresh or canned shoepeg is great)
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 avocado, chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
2 t. grated lime zest
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 t. salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and serve at once with tortilla chips.

(6 points for 1 1/2 c. of salad)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Rustic Turkey Tart

My sister-in-law Michelle passed this recipe on from Cook's Country magazine.

**Marc made it with chicken, because that's what we had. He then informed me that he doesn't like turkey in things, only plain. Well, alright, then.

1 9" prepared pie dough (they recommend Pillsbury Just Unroll crust)
1 1/2 c. cooked turkey (or chicken) breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
3/4 c. crumbled blue cheese
2 firm pears, peeled, cored and diced
1/4 c. pecans, toasted and chopped
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1 c. sour cream
3 T. heavy cream
1 T. minced fresh thyme (or 1 t. dried)
salt and pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Gently press pie crust into 9" tart pan and trim excess dough with a knife. Prick bottom of dough all over with fork tines. Bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes; cool.

Combine turkey, 1/2 c. cheese, pears, pecans, cranberries, sour cream, heavy cream, and thyme in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Transfer turkey mixture to cooled pie crust, then sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Bake until crust is golden brown and cheese is melted, about 20 minutes. Let cool 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature. (Tart can be refrigerated for 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

Cream of Artichoke and Pecan Soup

Chantal served this to us once at dinner and it was sublime.

3 T. butter
4 medium yellow onions, quartered
1/2 c. pecans, chopped
1/2 c. fresh basil, chopped
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. heavy cream
4 c. chicken broth
1/2 c. chopped artichoke hearts (rinse if canned)
additional fresh basil for garnish

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add onion; cook 15-20 minutes. Add pecans; cook, stirring ocassionally, over medium heat for an additional 10-15 minutes. Watch carefully, as onions caramelize easily and burn. Add basil, parsley, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes.

Remove from stove and purée mixure in blender.

Return puréed mixture to saucepan; add cream, chicken broth and artichoke hearts. Bring to a slow boil; remove from heat at once. Garnish with more fresh basil, if desired.

yields about 7 cups of soup

Apricot Chicken

from Better Homes & Gardens

**This is one of those recipes that I make when I don't want to go shopping, I usually have the ingredients on hand.

6 chicken breasts
21 oz. canned apricot pie filling (I usually just use apricot jam)
1 T. lemon juice
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground nutmeg (fresh ground is heavenly)
1/2 c. pecan halves
hot cooked rice

Arrange chicken breasts in a 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Combine apricot jam, lemon juice, 1/2 t. salt, and nutmeg in a bowl. Stir in pecans. Pour apricot mixture over chicken pieces. Cover and bake in a 375 degree oven for 55 to 60 minutes or until chicken is tender.

Arrange chicken on rice; spoon apricot mixture atop. Serves 6.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Marc's Algerian Couscous

Marc learned to make this while on his mission to Belgium and France, and fine-tuned his recipe along the way. (He doesn't use actual recipes, so I forced him to write down his proportions one time when we were teaching a cooking class for Enrichment.) Each time I eat this, I feel like my body is thanking me, and it's very tasty as well!

1 large onion, chopped
3 T olive oil
3/4 t. turmeric
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
dash of cinnamon
3-4 whole cloves
1 1/2 t. black pepper
1/2 t. salt
3 chicken bouillon cubes
1 small can tomato paste
3 medium zucchini
4 small yellow summer squash
4 large carrots
4 medium yellow potatoes
1 red or green bell pepper
1 can garbanzo beans, drained

Sauté onion in olive oil over medium heat until translucent. Add all spices, including bouillon, and cook for a few more minutes, stirring as needed. Add tomato paste, stir and simmer 2 minutes.

Cut all vegetables into large chunks and add to the pot. Add water to cover. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for at least an hour.

Add the garbanzo beans about 5 minutes before serving. Serve vegetable ragout over couscous.

Preparing couscous:

Put couscous in a bowl. Boil water with a bouillon cube. (use a 1 1/2:1 ratio of water to couscous) Put a pat of butter on dry couscous. Pour boiling water over the grain and wait about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

**My friend Gayle who lived in Morocco for several years makes her couscous differently: she first cuts up a chuck roast into about 6 sections, browns the meat, and then cooks it with the onion, spices, and 2 cans tomato sauce. After cooking the meat for about an hour, she adds the vegetables and cooks about an hour more. She also adds sweet potatoes to the vegetable mixture and steams cabbage on the side, and of course, serves it all over couscous. Hers is delicious, and we make it sometimes as well.

Old-fashioned Chicken Pot Pie

Comfort food defined.

2 1/4 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/2 c. shortening
6 T. ice water
2 cans chicken broth
5 diced, unpeeled red potatoes
4 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, chopped
1/2 - 1 c. frozen peas
1/2 t. poultry seasoning
1/4 t. pepper
1/2 c. milk
2 c. chopped cooked chicken breast

Combine 2 c. flour and 1/2 t. salt in a bowl; cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle ice water over surface; toss with a fork until dry ingredients are moistened. Divide dough in two and gently press into 4" circles; wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Bring broth to a boil over med. high heat. Add potato; cover and cook 5 minutes. Add carrot and onion; cover and cook 5 minutes.

Combine remaining 1/4 c. flour, 1/2 t. salt, poultry seasoning, pepper, and milk in a small bowl; stir well. Gradually add to the vegetable mixture, stirring well. Cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thickened and bubbly, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and stir in peas and chicken.

Roll out dough to a size 1" larger than your casserole dish. Fit one piece into dish to form the bottom crust. Fill with chicken/vegetable mixture. Top with the remaining dough and cut two slits for venting.

Spray with cooking spray and bake at 350 degrees for 55 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

(the original recipe halved the dough ingredients and had only a top crust, but I like a top and bottom crust)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Grilled Chipotle Salmon Tacos

1 pound skinless salmon filets or whitefish
8 oz. medium round red or white potatoes, cubed
1 1/2 t. ground chipotle chile pepper
3/4 t. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 c. purchased mild green salsa
3 T. lime juice
3/4 c. thinly sliced green onions
1/2 c. snipped fresh cilantro
12 6" or 16 4" corn tortillas, warmed
1/2 c. light dairy sour cream
lime wedges

Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse, pat dry, and set aside.

In covered saucepan, cook potatoes in enough salted boiling water to cover for about 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.

In small bowl combine chipotle chile pepper, sugar, and 1/4 t. of the salt. Rub pepper mixture into fish. Grill or broil 4-6 minutes per 1/2" thickness of fish or until it flakes easily with a fork. Cool slightly and break fish into chunks.

In a medium bowl, combine salsa, lime juice, and remaining salt. Add potatoes, fish, green onions, and cilantro; toss gently to coat.

Divide fish mixture among tortillas. Top with sour cream; fold tortillas. Serve with lime wedges.

(2 tacos = 6 WW points)

Carrot Rice

(Denise got this from Rachel Ray)

4 t. olive oil
3 large carrots, peeled and grated
1 1/2 c. white rice
2 1/2 c. chicken stock

Cook carrot in olive oil with salt and pepper.

Add rice, stir to coat and cook until rice is golden brown.

Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer 15-18 minutes, or until liquid is evaporated.

Monday, January 5, 2009

German Chocolate Cake

Otherwise known as: my birthday cake, every year. Luckily, Marc has become a master at making it.

from the German's Sweet Chocolate box

(makes 16 servings)

1 pkg. German's sweet chocolate (4 oz.)
1 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. water
4 eggs, separated
1 t. vanilla
2 c. sugar
2 c. cake flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 c. buttermilk

Line bottoms of 3 9" cake pans with wax paper; grease sides of pans.

Microwave chocolate and water on high 1 1/2-2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after each minute. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Mix flour, baking soda, and salt set aside. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla.

Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

Beat egg whites in another large bowl on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into cake batter. Pour evenly into prepared pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted into centers comes out clean. (Grandma taught me to check it as soon as it becomes fragrant.) Immediately run spatula between cakes and sides of pans. Cool 15 minutes; remove cake layers form pans and remove wax paper. Cool completely on wire racks. Spread Coconut-Pecan Filling between layers and on top of cake.

Coconut-Pecan Filling and Frosting

1 can evaporated milk
1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. butter
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 1/2 t. vanilla
7 oz. shredded coconut
1 1/2 c. chopped pecans

Mix milk, sugar, butter, egg yolks, and vanilla in a large saucepan. Cook on medium heat for 12 minutes or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Add coconut and pecans; mix well. Cool to room temperature and of desired spreading consistency. Makes about 4 1/2 c. or enough to fill and frost top of a 3-layer cake (or 24 cupcakes).

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Grandma's Lemon Bread

yields 1 8" loaf or 2-3 mini loaves

6 T. butter
3/4 c. sugar
2 eggs
3 T. lemon juice
2 t. freshly grated lemon zest
1 1/2 c. flour (scant)
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1/2 . milk
1/2 c. chopped walnuts, optional

3 T. lemon juice
1/2 c. sugar

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs. Add lemon juice & zest.

Combine dry ingredients and add alternately with milk (flour first and last). Stir just until combined.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes and then remove from pan.

Stir lemon juice and sugar together until dissolved. Pour glaze over bread while still warm from the oven. Wait 1-2 days before cutting. Freezes well.

Jill's spinach dip

1 c. sour cream
1 c. mayonnaise
3/4 c. sliced green onions
10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed
2 t. dried parsley
1 t. lemon juice
1/2 t. seasoned salt

Squeeze spinach dry. Mix all together and chill.

Serve with chunks of bread.

Miriam's Mulligatawny Soup

1 large onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 medium apples, cored and diced
1 c. diced cooked chicken
4-6 c. chicken stock (canned is fine)
2 t. curry powder
1/2 - 3/4 c. uncooked rice

Simmer fruit and vegetables in chicken stock for 1/2 hour. Add rice and chicken and simmer for another 1/2 hour.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Quick Creme Fraîche

It's not the real stuff, but it will do in a pinch. (like when you're in the U.S.!)

1 c. heavy cream
8 oz. nonfat sour cream
1/4 c. sifted powdered sugar

Beat all together in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Refrigerate, covered, several hours.

Marc's French Potage

This is about the fastest, easiest, most filling Winter meal imaginable.

3 Russet potatoes
1 bunch leeks
3 carrots
salt and pepper

Peel potatoes and carrots. Cut into large chunks.

Cut off ends of leeks. Cut again where the light green stalks turn dark green. Cut a slit lengthwise and wash leeks well under cold water to remove grit. Cut into large chunks.

Place vegetables in a large stockpot and cover with water. Add a couple of chicken bouillon cubes and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until vegetables are tender.

Ladle out most of the cooking water and reserve. Purée soup with a hand blender, adding reserved liquid if desired.

Stir in a dollop of heavy cream or creme fraîche just before serving and serve with hearty bread.

Denise's Rustic Italian Bruschetta

This is one of those recipes that Grandma would say costs a bucket of money to make, but man oh man, is it good!

5 med. tomatoes, diced
2 red onions, diced
4 oz. fresh basil, chiffonade
8 cloves garlic
2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. fresh parsley, chopped

Heat oil over medium heat and add garlic. Cook until golden brown and remove from heat.

Combine tomatoes and onions. Wrap cooled garlic in plastic wrap and crush. Remove, lightly chop and add to tomato mixture. Pour 1/2 of the oil, balsamic vinegar, and basil into mixture and fold gently. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with crostini.


Slice bread on diagonal into ~1/3" thick slices. Brush with remaining garlic oil and bake at 350 degrees until golden, about 4-8 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley.

Mary Kay's Ice Cream Dessert

1/2 c. butter, melted
1 c. coconut
1 c. Rice Krispies
1 1/4 c. chopped pecans
3/4 c. brown sugar
ice cream, slightly softened

Mix together all but ice cream and bake at 450 degrees for 5-8 minutes, tossing once.

Spread half of mixture in a 9 x 13 pan and top with softened vanilla ice cream. Sprinkle remaining Rice Krispie mixture on top and freeze.

Pineapple-Marshmallow Salad

It's not for everyone, but it's a Petersen family favorite.
(Jessie and I have been known to make it for ourselves, since no one else wanted to partake!)

1 can pineapple, drained (reserve juice)
1 heaping T. flour
1 T. sugar
dash of salt
1 egg or 2 egg yolks
1 T. lemon juice
mini marshmallows
sharp cheddar

Stir together reserved pineapple juice, flour, sugar, salt, and egg. Cook and stir until thickened.
Add lemon juice.

Pour hot sauce over marshmallows and pineapple. Chill, stirring occasionally.

Top with grated sharp cheddar.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Jenn's Cheese Fondue

1/2 c. chicken broth
2-3 c. grated cheese
(cheddar with swiss, jack, or mozzarella -- I use whatever I had on hand, most recently sharp white cheddar, jarlsberg, colby jack, and a little blue)
a few tablespoons of flour
dash of garlic salt or tobasco
a little finely-chopped artichoke

Toss grated cheeses with flour.
Heat the chicken broth in fondue pot.
Gradually stir in cheese until melted.

Serve with chunks of hearty bread, apples, and vegetables for dipping.

Peach Sauce

Mash 2 ripe peaches in a saucepan.

Stir in 1 c. sugar,
3 T. cornstarch
1/2 c. water

Cook for 5 minutes or until sauce boils and thickens.

Turn off heat and add 1/2 t. almond extract and 2 T. butter

Delicious over vanilla ice cream and sliced fresh peaches! The taste of summer.

Ranger Cookies

1 c. brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. shortening
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs
2 c. flour
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 1/4 c. oatmeal
1 c. corn flakes or Rice Krispies
1 c. coconut
1 small pkg. chocolate chips
1 c. nuts, optional

Cream together sugars, shortening, eggs, and vanilla.

Sift together dry ingredients and add to sugar mixture. (My favorite way of sifting dry ingredients together is to place a sieve over the mixing bowl, pour all the dry ingredients in and gently shake.)

Stir in remaining ingredients and drop cookie dough on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

Very Good Banana Cake

This not-too-sweet cake is a refreshing change for banana lovers!

2 1/2 c. sifted cake flour
1 2/3 . sugar
1 1/4 t. each baking powder and baking soda (5/8 t. at high altitude)
1 t. salt
2/3 c. buttermilk
2/3 c. shortening
1 1/4 c. very ripe bananas (~3)
2 large eggs
whipping cream

Sift dry ingredients together. Add buttermilk, shortening, and bananas and beat for 2 minutes.

Add eggs and beat another 2 minutes. Pour batter into two prepared cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. (375 degrees for high altitude)

Cool 10 minutes and remove from pans.

Top each layer with sweetened whipped cream and sliced bananas.

Linda's Baked Cheese Dip

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
8 oz. sour cream
1/2 can bean dip
1/2 pkg. dry taco seasoning
3-5 drops tobasco sauce
1 c. grated cheddar
1 c. monterey jack

Mix cream cheese, sour cream, and bean dip well. Stir in taco seasoning and tobasco sauce. Stir in grated cheeses and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Serve with tortilla chips.