Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Oven Brown Rice

This is an Alton Brown recipe I found online.  It made serving brown rice a simple task.  I will pop a batch into the oven in the afternoon and then reheat it for dinner.  With only 2 of us in the household, there's always leftovers to use for other meals during the week.  Toss a handful or two into Hungarian mushroom soup, or some other thin-broth soup for a little substance ... Serve under Tuna Stroganoff or some other gravy-type dish.  The possibilities are limitless.  I still use white rice in certain recipes, but this oven version means we eat brown rice much more often.

Bake:  375 degrees - 1 hour
Use 8x8 casserole dish

1 1/2 cups brown rice
2 1/2 cups water
1 Tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in casserole dish, cover tightly with foil. Bake 1 hour.  Let rest 10-15 minutes before serving.


Sesame Pork Stir-Fry

I've had this recipe for years.  It's my go-to stir-fry recipe.  I never follow the recipe exactly.  I use either pork or chicken, though never as much as the recipe specifies.  I like to julienne most everything.  My mom gave me this really cool gadget, like a potato peeler, except it finely juliennes with each swipe!  I chop celery or water chestnuts, but large veggies get julienned.  I have to say it's always best when I use lots of freshly grated ginger root.  If I get crazy and use too many veggies, I might double all the seasonings.  If I need a side dish, just skip the meat.  I generally always serve it over brown rice, which I bake in the oven ahead of time.   I'll share that recipe too.  I never cook everything in the order the recipe calls for.  I generally cook the meat most the way through and then start adding veggies, in the order of which needs to cook longest to shortest.  Hope that makes sense to you!

rice, cooked and ready
pork tenderloin (3/4 pound, thinly sliced)
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon minced, peeled ginger root (or 1 teaspoon dry)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed with garlic press
3/4 cup chicken broth
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons olive oil
3 medium-size carrots, cut into 2" by 1/4" sticks
1 medium-size red pepper, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 small zucchini (about 8 oz) cut into 2" by 1/4" sticks
(I also enjoy celery, water chestnuts, green onions, sliced red or white onion, asparagus, and/or broccoli!)
Prepare rice in whatever manner you like.  Keep warm, or reheat when ready to eat.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss pork, soy sauce, ginger root, sesame oil, and garlic.  In cup, mix chicken broth and cornstarch together, dissolving cornstarch.
In non-stick 12" skillet over med-high heat, heat 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add carrots and red pepper; cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Add 1 Tablespoon water and cook 3-5 minutes longer or until tender-crisp.  Remove to bowl.
In same skillet, heat remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil.  Add zucchini; cook until tender-crisp, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove to bowl with vegetables.
In same skillet, cook pork mixture, stirring constantly, until pork just loses it's pink color.  Stir cornstarch mixture; add to pork.  Stir in vegetables; heat to boiling.  Boil 1 minute until sauce thickens.  Serve pork stir-fry with rice.

Makes 4 main-dish servings.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Glaze

This is my favorite chocolate cake.  I quit buying cake mixes years ago when I discovered it really is pretty much just as easy to bake cakes from scratch.  This chocolate cake is based on the same chemistry as what we call a "Wacky Cake".  It doesn't require eggs, and instead uses baking soda and white vinegar to help the raising process.  I've never had a failure with this cake, except when I once forgot to grease and flour the pan ... that was sad ... but it tasted great!  This recipe I found in a Cuisine at Home magazine several years back.

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Dutch-processed cocoa whenever available)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot water
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 Tablespoon instant coffee granules
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a 10-12 cup Bundt pan, then coat with cocoa powder (instead of flour).
  3. Whisk together all dry ingredients, except coffee granules.
  4. Combine wet ingredients, dissolving coffee granules, then add to dry ingredients.
  5. Wisk carefully, or stir, just until combined.
  6. Pour batter into Bundt pan.  Bake 40-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  7. Cool in pan for 10-15 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.
  8. Glaze with peanut butter, or chocolate, or any kind of glaze you like.
Peanut Butter Glaze

2 1/2 Tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 cups powdered sugar
3-4 Tablespoons of milk, as needed to get desired consistancy.

Whisk all together and squeeze onto cake from a sandwich bag with one corner cut off.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sugared Rhubarb Muffins

These sweet muffins aren't exactly health food, but a great way to enjoy the Rhubarb growing in my front yard!  We love them.  I found the recipe in Taste of Home's 2002 Annual Recipes cookbook.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups sufar, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup fat-free milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 cup chopped fresh or frozen rhubarb

In a bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.  In another bowl, beat egg, milk and oil.  Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in rhubarb, then fill paper-lined muffin cups three-fourths full.  Sprinkle with remaining sugar.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Cool 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.  Yield: 1 dozen

Monday, June 4, 2012

Merilou's Home-Grown Tomato Soup

There's a recipe I found online for Nordstrom's CafĂ© Roma Tomato Soup.  It calls for canned, whole, peeled Roma tomatoes, heavy cream and some veggies & oil.  I imagined it would be very good tomato soup.  But I was certain I could make it more healthy than it sounded and still have it be good.  I love a challenge!  So, I cut back the oil, used my own home frozen, peeled, diced, Roma tomatoes, and swapped the heavy cream for evaporated milk.  The color wasn't quite red enough for me, so I added a small can of tomato paste.  We loved it!  I'll now call this soup Merilou's Home-Grown Tomato Soup, based on the Nordstrom's Cafe Roma Tomato Soup.

2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 small carrots, sliced
1 1/2 on1  1/2 large onion, sliced
1 1/2 Tablespoons dried basil
4 cups of peeled, diced, Roma Tomatoes (mine did not include salt)
1 cup water and 3 chicken bouillon cubes (or 1 cup chicken broth)
1 small can tomato paste
8 oz can of evaporated milk
salt/pepper to taste

Place olive oil in a 4 quart sauce pan and heat over medium-high heat.  Add carrots, onion and basil and cook 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are soft.  Add tomatoes and broth and simmer 20 minutes.

Remove from heave and allow to cool slightly.  Puree soup with hand blender, or in food processor in small batches, until smooth; return to saucepan.  Stir in milk and heat, over low heat, just until heated through (do not boil).  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  You'll need less salt if you use bouillon, or it you used regularly salted canned tomatoes.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Louise' Dill Poached Cod (or other firm fish!)

We have this dear lady at our church - Louise.  She was a friend of my Grandma's before Grandma passed away in 2007.  I always hope that I will be like Louise as I age.  I have never known a more pleasant woman -- never a harsh word, always thankful, with a sweet smile.  Louise submitted this recipe to our church cookbook that was compiled several years ago by our church's office staff.  I tried it, and it became one of our favorite ways to enjoy fish.  Both Steve and I enjoy fish and try to eat it once or twice a week at least.  I've used this recipe for Cod, Halibut, Orange Roughy and Salmon. They all turn out wonderfully!

4 cups water
3 chicken boullion cubes (I use 4)
4 T juice from dill pickle jar (1/4 cup)
1 t dill weed
1 med. onion, sliced (thinly)
1 bay leaf
1 t salt
1/2 coarsely ground pepper (or a few peppercorns)
2 lbs ling or rock cod fillets (or orange roughy/salmon, etc.)

In a deeper frying pan, or wider sauce pan, heat first 8 ingredients to a boil, simmer 20 minutes.

Add fish, and simmer 10 minutes or until desired doneness.

Serve with homemade tartar sauce.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Israeli Lenti Soup

"I got this recipe from my mother while I was in college.  Loved it then, love it now.  I'm not sure why, but both Steve and I love lentil soup!  I have several recipes for lentil soups and stews.  I'm in a soup mood now, so Israeli Lenti Soup is today's recipe to save!"    -- Merilou

1 cup dried lentils, not rinsed
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 ribs celery, shredded or minced
2 carrots, chopped small
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
3 cups fat-skimmed chicken broth
3 cups water
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch dried thyme
pinch turmeric or curry powder
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup diced cooked chicken or turkey 

Combine all ingredients except lemon juice and meant, in soup pot.  Cover and simmer about an hour .  Stir in lemon juice and meat.

Makes 4 generous meal-sized servings, 290 calories each

The lentil is one of the oldest food.  In fact, the biblical "mess of pottage" that Esau traded for his birthright was actually lentil soup.

Lentils are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber, yet virtually fat-free.  A cup of dried lentils has more protein than half a pound of beef.      -- source unknown