Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Soft Ginger Cookies

I saw this post on my friend's blog, which made me want to make the cookies. Rooke helped me and they were delicious!

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup margarine, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons white sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Sift together the flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, cream together the margarine, white and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, then stir in the water. Gradually stir the sifted ingredients into the sugar mixture. Shape dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar. (I normally skip this because I think the cookies are sweet enough.) Place the cookies 2 inches apart onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and flatten slightly.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew

I doubled this recipe, made a few adjustments, and served it for our community group dinner last night. It was so easy and got rave reviews from everyone! (I was hoping for leftovers to take my own picture, but it was completely gone by the end of the night)

2 pounds beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon paprika
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 onion, chopped
1 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup red wine
3 potatoes, diced
4 carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, chopped
Place meat in slow cooker. In a small bowl mix together the flour, salt, and pepper; pour over meat, and stir to coat meat with flour mixture. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf, paprika, Worcestershire sauce, onion, beef broth, wine, potatoes, carrots, and celery.

Cover, and cook on Low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on High setting for 4 to 6 hours.

Sausage, Lentil, and Kale Soup

All three of us loved this soup. My mother-in-law will be so proud that we had kale for dinner!

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
8oz sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup dried lentils
6 cups chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite size pieces (stems removed)
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tsp red-wine vinegar

In a large dutch oven or heavy pot, heat oil over medium-high, Add sausage and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until golden brown, about five minutes. Add celery and onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add lentils, broth, and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a rapid simmer, partially cover, and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender, 25 minutes.

Add kale and season with salt. Return soup to a rapid simmer, cover, and cook until kale wilts, about 5 minutes. Remove soup from heat, stir in vinegar, and season with salt and pepper.

Black Bean Chili

This is one of my husband's favorites. The toppings add flavor and interest (although we've never tried the hard-cooked eggs . . .)

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 cups chopped yellow onion
1 cup finely chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can (4 ounces) diced green chilies, drained
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
pepper and salt
chopped cilantro or parsley

grated cheese
sour cream
chopped hard-cooked eggs

In a soup pot over medium heat, warm oil. Add onion, celery, and garlic and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients except garnish and toppings. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until flavors are blended, about 40 minutes. Ladle into bowls, garnish with cilantro sprigs, and pass the toppings separately.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Pumpkin Seed Sauce

I know this picture doesn't look very appetizing, but trust me - this was delicious! I only grilled two chicken breasts and the recipe says the sauce is enough to serve four, so we have enjoyed the left-over sauce on meatballs, baked potatoes, and roasted vegetables. Yummy stuff!

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
1 jalapeno chile, chopped (seeds and ribs removed for less heat if desired)
1/4 cup raw green pumpkin seeds
1 1/2 cups packed chopped romaine lettuce
1 Tbsp white-wine vinegar (I used red)
salt and pepper
1/4 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves

Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add pumpkin seeds; cook, stirring often, until puffed, about 5 minutes. Add lettuce, vinegar, and 1 cup water; season with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt (it was a tad on the salty side, so I would start with just 1/2 or 1 teaspoon and add to taste). Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until lettuce is tender, about 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a blender; add cilantro. Blend on high speed until sauce is very smooth, about 3 minutes. Thin sauce with 2 to 4 Tablespoons more water if needed (it should be pourable).

Serve with your choice of meat or veggies or - whatever! This can be made up to 2 days in advance; let cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container. Reheat over low heat.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

(Somewhat) Spicy Chicken Pumpkin Soup

Just in case you thought I was over my pumpkin craze . . . This is good stuff.

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts halves, cut into 1 inch cubes (only used four)
1 sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 TBS minced fresh ginger (worth it)
1/2 to 3/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (use at least 3/4 if you are really wanting to taste the spice)
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 can 15oz pumpkin
1 can mango nectar (Hispanic food isle)
1/2 fresh lime juice
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup minced cilantro
1/2 heavy cream (I just used milk)
1 TBS cornstarch
2-4 cups of hot cooked rice (jasmine or basmati)
3 green onions, minced
1/2 cup unsalted peanuts chopped (optional)

Heat 1 TBS of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook , stirring occasionally, about 3 mins. Add onion, garlic , ginger and red pepper flakes; Cook 1 or 2 minutes longer or until mixture is fragrant. Remove from heat.

Place the chicken mixture in a Crock Pot. Add celery, carrot, pumpkin, mango nectar, lime juice, peanut butter, broth and 2 cups water (I probably won't use any water next time); stir to combine. Cover and cook on LOW 8 hours or on HIGH 4 hours.

Mix cream and cornstarch together in small mixing bowl. Stir mixture into soup. If soup was cooked on the LOW setting, turn setting to HIGH . Simmer, uncovered 10 minutes or until soup thickens. To serve, mound rice in soup bowls and ladle soup around the rice.

Sprinkle cilantro, green onions, and peanuts on top.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thai Green Chicken Curry

Ryan and I vacationed in Thailand while living in China and during one of our stays, a friend and I took a Thai cooking class (it was supposed to flame up like that - I promise!). It was one of the most fun things I've ever done! I've hung on to the recipe book they gave us and this is one of my favorites to make that almost tastes like what we had in Chiang Mai. Mmmm . . . I love Thai food!

2 cups thick coconut cream
1 Tbsp green curry paste
2 Tbsp oil
1-2 chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch pieces
5-6 Thai eggplants, cut into large chunks
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Kaffir lime leaves, remove stems
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1/2 Tbsp sugar
15-20 sweet basil leaves (also called Thai basil in Asian markets)
3 red chilies, chopped coarsely (if you can stand the heat!)

Heat the oil in a wok on medium high. Add green curry paste, turn heat down to medium, and cook while stirring for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Add the chicken and cook through. Add the coconut cream and bring to a boil. Add eggplants, green beans, fish sauce and sugar and boil until vegetables are tender - about 5 minutes.

Turn off heat. Add basil and kaffir lime leaves. Mix well. Serve over rice (we like Jasmine the best) and top with chilies.

Chicken Enchiladas

Easy. Delicious. Great dish to take a new mom.

1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 cooked small chicken breasts, shredded (or the equivalent amount from a whole roasted chicken)
1 4oz. can diced green chilies
1 cup chunky salsa, divided
4 oz. cream cheese
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1 cup total Cheddar & Monteray Jack cheeses, divided
8-10 tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Heat large skillet sprayed with cooking spray on medium heat. Add onions and garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes. Add chicken, green chilies, 1/4 cup of the salsa, cream cheese, cilantro and cumin; mix well. Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally. Add 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese; mix well.

Spoon about 1/3 cup of the chicken mixture on each tortillas; roll up. Place, seam-side down, in 13x 9-inch baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with remaining 3/4 cup sala and remaining 1/2 cup cheese.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until heated through.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Toad in the Hole

Last year, my family spent Christmas together in London (where my parents live). Ryan and I fell in love with the pubs (more specifically, the pub food!). Since the trip, we've wanted to try and make some of the dishes we enjoyed. One of our favorites was Toad in the Hole and I have to say, our first attempt didn't turn out all that bad! I even found "authentic English bangers" at the grocery store!

1 1/2 cup of plain flour
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp olive oil
1 lb of good-quality sausage (pork, turkey)
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F. Sift flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper. Make a well in the center of the flour. Whisk the eggs and the milk into the center of the well in the flour, gradually to smooth out lumps. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.

Brown the sausages in a little olive oil and cook through, about 10 minutes

Put sausages in a square baking dish, pour the batter over the sausages and place in oven. Cook for about 25 minutes or until the batter is risen and golden. Serve at once.

Serves 4-6

Monday, November 2, 2009

Apple Walnut Rustic Tart

We loved this and it was so simple to make!

1 Pâte Brisée (tart dough) for a 10-inch tart or 1 packaged, flat pie crust (I used the store-bought crust)
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese (or blue cheese)
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 large granny smith apples (or other good cooking apples such as jonagold or fuji), peeled, cored, chopped
1 teaspoon of lemon juice (optional)

Toss the walnuts, gorgonzola, thyme, chopped apples, and maple syrup together in a medium size bowl. As you are working with the apples (chopping them, mixing them in with the other ingredients), if you want, you can squeeze a little lemon juice on them to help keep them from discoloring. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap while you prepare the crust.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Roll out pastry dough to 13-inches, at an 1/8 of an inch thickness. Place pastry dough on a rimmed baking sheet. (Rimmed because the pastry will leak during the cooking process.) Mound the filling in the middle of the rolled out dough, and spread out evenly to 1 1/2 inches to 2 inches from the edge of the dough. Pleat the edges of the dough over the filling.

Bake for 45 minutes to an hour, until crust is nicely browned. If at any time it looks like the walnuts are getting a little burnt, you can lightly tent a piece of aluminum foil over the center.

Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes before serving. A pizza wheel works great for slicing up the tart.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

This cake came out super moist and de-li-cious! Just a little vanilla ice cream and we were good to go!

15 oz. can pumpkin
4 eggs
1 c. canola oil
1/2 c. water
3-1/2 c. flour
3 c. sugar
1 T. pumpkin pie spice
2 t. baking soda
1-1/2 t. salt

Combine pumpkin, eggs, oil, and water. Mix well. Add in the dry ingredients, and mix well. Pour into a bundt pan that has been coated with cooking spray. Bake 1 hour and 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
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