Sunday, June 28, 2009

Super Easy Stir Fry

I got this recipe from my friend, Leslie. It's fast, easy, and delicious.

Stir-Fry Veggies:
Use whatever you have in your fridge. Tonight I used:

Sugar Snap Peas
Red and Yellow Bell Pepper
Crushed Garlic

Sautee garlic in olive oil over high heat in wok, then add veggies and toss for a few minutes, until warm and still crisp. Set aside.

Whisk together
1/2 C mayo
1 T soy sauce
1/2 tsp ginger (I used dried, but fresh would be waaaay better)
garlic salt to taste

Pour over veggies (you can add chicken or tofu if you'd like!) and make sure it's warm.

Serve over rice!

Sweedish Meatballs

I tried another recipe out of our Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and this one was great. I had never made meatballs before, and now I'm not so scared to make them!

1 egg, beaten
1/4 c. milk
3/4 c. soft bread crumbs
1/2 c. finely chopped onion (1 medium)
1/4 c. snipped fresh parsley (or 2 T dried parsley)
1/4 t. black pepper
1/8 t. ground allspice or nutmeg
8 oz (1/2 lb) ground beef
8 oz (1/2 lb) ground pork or lamb
1 T butter or margarine
2T flour
2 t instant beef bouillon granules
1/8 t black pepper
2 c. milk
3 c. hot cooked noodles
snipped fresh parsley (optional)

1. In a large bowl combine egg and 1/4 c milk. Stir in bread crumbs, onion, the 1/4 c. parsley, the 1/4 t pepper, and allspice. Add meats. Mix well. Shape into 30 meatballs (I used a small cookie scoop to make the meatballs)
2. In a large skillet cook half the meatballs at a time in hot butter over medium heat about 10 minutes or until done (an instant-read thermometer inserted into meatballs should register 160 degrees F), turning to brown evenly. Remove meatballs from skillet, reserving drippings; drain meatballs on paper towels. Measure 2 tablespoons drippings; if necessary, add cooking oil to make 2 tablespoons.
3. Stir flour, bouillon granules, and the 1/8 t pepper into drippings. Stir in the 2 c. milk. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Return meatballs to skillet. Heat through. serve over noodles. If desired, sprinkle with additional snipped parsley.

Oven Baked Barbecued Chicken

We tried this recipe out of our Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and it is delicious. It is really spicy, though, so be prepared!

2 1/2 - 3 lbs meaty chicken pieces
1/2 c. chopped onion (1 medium)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T cooking oil
3/4 c. bottled chili sauce
2 T honey
2 T soy sauce
1 T yellow mustard
1/2 t prepared horseradish
1/4 t crushed red pepper

1. Skin chicken. Arrange chicken, bone sides up, in a 15x10x1 inch baking pan. Bake in a 375 oven for 25 minutes.
2. For sauce, in a saucepan cook onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown. Stir in chili sauce, honey, soy sauce, mustard, horseradish, and crushed red pepper; heat through.
3. Turn chicken bone sides down. Brush half of the sauce over the chicken. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes more or until chicken is no longer pink. Reheat remaining sauce; pass with the chicken.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hungarian Chocolate Mousse Cake Bars

That's a mouthful of a title, isn't it?

This recipe is in the top 5 of most difficult AND time intensive recipes I have made, but it is so very worth it. The apricot jam (I had scored some homemade from the fabulous Kate H.) add a depth and complexity to the bars--almost a mocha flavor.

I used my handy Gourmet Cookbook to make this and probably wouldn't have posted it here (it's a LONG recipe to type). Fortunately, has the recipe. I've just attached pictures I took of the big steps because it's a scary recipe. I would have loved to see that I was doing things right along the way.

They aren't kidding when they say you'll be making two layers of VERY thin cake!

Chocolate mousse filling over the thin apricot jam layer

Whip cream filling
My only suggestion with this recipe would be to cut off the crispy edge of both cake layers and perhaps trim a bit more off the top layer to help with placing the 30 tops on top of the whip cream filling.
TahDah (I was too tired to try to make this look nice)

Storing Basil

If you're like me and can't grow a decent basil plant and have to buy it at the farmer's market (because it's SO much cheaper than at the grocery store), here's a tip. The farmer's market cashier told my mom, "Just change the water and leave it on the counter. It doesn't need to be refridgerated."

My mom did that (her plant was on the right) and so did I, until I finished making dinner. As I was cleaning up, I thoughtlessly put my basil back in the fridge for the night (mine is on the left).

Apparently, basil is the exception that proves Food Network's rule of storing herbs upright in the fridge with water.

Ginger Soy Eggplant

I keep meaning to try grilling eggplant. Last week, I found this recipe in my mom's cookbook and got a gift of three Japanese eggplants from our neighbor's garden (thanks, Brother Jones!). So, I decided to try it out. I love how this eggplant is a little sweet, a great vegetarian option as either a sandwich filler or on its own with rice.

Ginger-Soy Eggplant
Williams-Sonoma Grilling Essentials

1 large globe eggplant (1 1/2 lb), peeled and cut crosswise in 1/2 inch slices or 3 Japanese eggplants

Ginger Soy Marinade

1/3 cup soy sauce
2 T mirin (Japanese cooking wine) or sherry
2 T rice vinegar
1 clove garlic minced
2 t peeled and minced fresh ginger
2 t sugar
freshly ground pepper

Choppes fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Lightly salt eggplant slices on both sides and lay them in a single layer on paper towels. Let stand for 30 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. This is to leech out the bitterness in eggplant that has been sitting around for a while. There's no need to salt eggplant if you're lucky enough to have fresh eggplant from a garden.

Mix marinade in a wide, shallow, nonreactive bowl. Place eggplants in marinade and coat each slice. Let stand in marinade at room temperature for 1 hour, turning once. I accidentally marinaded these for 24 hours (23 in the fridge) and liked that it seemed to absorb the marinade more during that time. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Um, I forgot to do this. I took them straight out of the bowl and put them on the grill.

Grill eggplant slices turning once until soft when pierced with a knife, 5-8 minutes per side.

Arrange eggplant slices on warmed serving plate, sprinkle with parsley (I'll try cilantro next time) and serve hot or room temperature.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Key Lime Pie

I keep meaning to try some new dinner recipes, but lately, desserts have been calling to me. This pie is so easy and perfect for a casual summer dinner. The taste of lime is light; I may try added some of the lime zest next time.

Key Lime Pie
Gourmet Cookbook

For crust
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from 9 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice (if using bottled, preferably Manhattan brand) have you seen how LITTLE Key limes are? I just used regular ones.

For topping
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream

Make crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch (4-cup) glass pie plate.
Bake crust in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack. Leave oven on.

Make filling and bake pie:
Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice and whisk until combined well (mixture will thicken slightly).

Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

Make topping:
Just before serving, beat cream in a bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds stiff peaks.
Serve pie topped with cream.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

New Category

I've put up a sidebar that lists all the labels we've assigned for the posted recipes. I created a new category called "summer." These are dishes that can be made without an oven and usually with very minimal (if any) time on the stove.

Because there's nothing that irritates me more than hearing my air conditioning chugging away as I'm sweating over the stove!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Block Party Beans

So, I have this goal to publish one dinner a week this summer that doesn't involve using an oven and/or no more than 5 minutes with a stove on (their label will be "summer"), but this recipe is too good to pass up. I loved it, my kids loved it (and my 4-year old loved that it was a dish that had the word, "party" in it), and my husband loved it.

I suspect it can be easily adapted to the Crock Pot; once I practice it, I'll post the adaptation.

Block Party Beans
Cook's Country

2 1/2 pounds 85% lean ground beef I used 1 pound since I halved this recipe
1 onion, chopped fin
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 15 oz cans beans, drained and rinsed I used 3 cans since I did less meat: red beans, black beans, navy beans
2 28 oz cans tomatoe sauce I used a jar of spaghetti sauce
1/2 c barbeque sauce
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/2 t red pepper flakes I left this out
salt and pepper
12 ounces green beans, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces I used frozen green beans to cut down on cooking time
1 10 ounce package frozen lima beans didn't have these

Make sauce: adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook beef in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Drain beef in colander, then return to pot. Stir in onion and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in beans, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, sugar, vinegar, pepper flakes, 1/2 t salt, and 1/2 t pepper and bring to boil.

Bake: Transfer pot to oven and cook, covered, until sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes I found 18-20 min adequate with halved recipe. Stir in green beans and lima beans and continue to cook, covered, until green beans are tender, about 30 minutes mine were done in 12. Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serves 10-12.