Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vinegar Trick

I made this recipe again tonight for dinner, but I added a tablespoon of Red Wine vinegar to it, and my goodness, the difference was unmistakable and really, there's no turning back.

My mom's friend Sally came by on Monday for some tea and fresh banana bread on her way back from the airport and we got talking about food - she is a self-proclaimed foodie and has actually just started her own food blog! Anyway, she told me about this vinegar trick she uses on most of her soups and stews and roasts. She says just a tablespoon added at the end works magic. She's right. I don't have as many vinegars as she does (she said she has quite a few), but I did happen to have Red Wine vinegar on hand, and since the soup had beef in it, I figured I'd give it a go. My goodness. You should try it and experiment with it. I know it sounds a little out there, but really, it's a great 'secret' ingredient.

Thai Sweet Sticky Rice with Mango (Khao Neeo Mamuang)

This is the rice/mango dessert I was talking about to go with the Thai Peanut Butter Sauce stir-fry. It is authentic as any I've had at a Thai restaurant, and that's saying something since Thai is my favorite food to eat out. My aunt is Thai and I've eaten at the best little hole-in-the-walls for the last few years - including this fantastic place in NYC! mouth is watering right now just thinking about it. Anyway, this is the real deal. I got this recipe off and I haven't used any other since.

Thai Sweet Sticky Rice With Mango (Khao Neeo Mamuang)

  • 1 cup uncooked white rice (I use Jasmine)
  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 cup coconut milk (the exact amount left over from the Peanut Butter Sauce)
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • mango
  • Sesame seeds (opt)
--Cook the rice in the water until done.
--When the rice is close to being done, heat the coconut milk, sugar, and salt in a small sauce pan until boiling.
--Add the done rice to the hot milk, remove from heat, stir, and cover. Let sit for one hour.
--Peel and slice the mango laying it on top of the rice. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top if desired.

There is traditionally a sauce that goes over it all, but for me, that ruins it, it just makes the rice all watery when that's what I don't want. :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Thai Peanut Butter Sauce for Stir-fry

The peanut butter sauce is really what makes this meal. Stir fry is just stir fry until you put a little zing into it, right? So go on, get out your skillet or wok and start sauteing those veggies! Add your choice of meat and just when it looks like any old stir fry - add the sauce. Bam! You have yourself a mouthwatering Thai version of that any-old-day meal. Or, just use it as a dipping sauce with chicken or veggies. Enjoy!

Thai Peanut Butter Sauce
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I use reduced fat creamy, I'm sure whatever would work)
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (use the rest to make dessert: sweet sticky rice with mango!)
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 4 T soy sauce or tamari
  • 3 T garlic (I just use the minced stuff in the jar)
  • Ginger to taste (make sure this is the last ingredient you add)
--Combine all ingredients (except ginger) into a small bowl, stirring until smooth.
--Once smooth, start adding the ginger, tasting every now and again until it suites your taste!

This is what it should look like in the bowl

And this is about when your moth starts to water and you're praying the noodles or rice are close to being done!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Sweet Potato and Onion Frittata

I made this new dish last night and was very pleased! I had never made a frittata before and have to admit, I was a little nervous, but I shouldn't have feared. What, you may be asking, is a frittata? Well, it's an egg dish sometimes used for breakfast, but also a good dinner entree. It's similar to a quiche, but doesn't have a crust, and is cooked in a skillet instead of a pie dish. This is quite easy - a little bit of chopping, but that is easy to do ahead of time. The original recipe called for fresh parsley leaves , but I used dried and if was just fine. It also called for a normal baking potato of which I substituted 2 small sweet potatoes - and this is the way I will do it from now on.

Sweet Potato and Onion Frittata
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion - halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 small sweet potatoes - skinned and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 t dried rosemary (i was heavy handed with the rosemary and it was great!)
  • 5 eggs
  • 5 egg whites
  • Fresh or dried parsely. The fresh would be prettier, but the taste is the same with the dried.
--In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 T of olive oil and saute the onion, potato, and rosemary. Covered for 10 minutes, and uncovered for 5 - until vegetables are soft.
--In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, and parsley. Add salt and paper here to taste.
--Add 1 T olive oil to vegetables and stir. Add the egg mixture and let sit for 10 minutes, occasionally using a spatula to lift the sides of the fritatta to let the raw egg cook.
--Put your broiler on with rack set to 4 inches below.
--After the frittata is mostly set, stick it under the broiler for 3-5 minutes until set completely and golden brown on top.
--With a clean spatula, loosen the edge of the frittata and slide onto a plate for serving!

I served this with sauteed onions and multi-colored bell peppers along with some brown rice. It was so good!!


I made this again and decided to add a can of rinsed and drained black beans for some added color and protein punch. I think an entire can was a little much (you can see how they "pooled" together in places) but since we did like their added flavor I'll only add about a cup next time.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Danish Creams

I got this recipe from our church's most recent recipe exchange! It is beyond good. It's so good, it is going to be one of the reoccurring desserts at my Christmas meal. I host Christmas every year, and since I like tradition, I like to have some of the same things on the table year after year. I always have 2 meats, 2 vegetables, 2 desserts, and 2 salads. 1 of the meats (my French Canadian Tourtier) is in honor of my French Canadian heritage. The Creamy Sweet Potato Soup is a favorite and so it stays simply because we like it. This Danish Cream speaks to Scot's Scandinavian heritage, and so it will now become a staple. The salads, I think, will always stay the same since I grew up with them: Ambrosia and my mom's Cranberry Orange salad thing. Thankfully, she's bringing those this year, but I'm going to have to get the recipes for upcoming years! All that aside, I had to try this dessert out before I just entered it into my Christmas menu! It's rich and creamy and, really, just scrumptious! Thanks, Deb, for sharing!

Danish Creams
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream - upwhipped
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup sour cream - I used light and it turned out fine
  • 1/2 t vanilla
  • 2 10 oz packages of frozen berries - I used mixed berries and it was fantastic!
--Pour fruit into a bowl to thaw (you really do want frozen berries for this because they create the most juice once thawed)
--Combine whipping cream, sugar and gelatin in saucepan and heat until sugar and gelatin are completely dissolved - do not boil!
--Remove from heat and let stand 15 minutes
--Add sour cream and vanilla - beat until well blended
--Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve
--Spoon into small dishes (not large servings) and top with the berries and juice

Note: Makes 4 - good to double to serve 8

Seshonginbrosu Glazed Chicken

What is that, you may say. This is a concoction of 2 creative college students. My roommate and I were fiddling around in the kitchen one day and came up with this glaze. We would even drizzle some of over our carrots if that's what we were having as our vegetable! Served over rice, this sweeten chicken is delicious. Scot is always telling me I need to make this for company, but since some people are particular about how much sweet is in their main meal, I tend to leave it for just the normal dinner with us. And now for the name...seshonginbrosu stands for the ingredients you use to make the glaze. Sesame seeds, honey, ginger, brown sugar.

Seshonginbrosu Glaze - for 2 chicken breasts

  • 3 T honey
  • 1/4 brown sugar
  • ginger to taste
  • Sesame seeds - for garnish at the end
--Cook your chicken however you like it. With this recipe I usually boil it, cut it into strips, and then transfer it tot he sauce pan, or...if I have the little tenderloin strips already, I pan fry them and then transfer them to the sauce pan
--When the chick is pretty much done, put the honey, brown sugar, and ginger in a small sauce pan and heat until it turns into a glaze.
--Add chicken and simmer for about 5 minutes. Chicken should be covered (or nearly covered) by the glaze.
--Serve over rice. Drizzle extra glaze (I always double the glaze) on rice and chicken. Top with sesame seeds!

Taco Soup

This is the simplest and tastiest taco soup I have ever made or had, and I love taco soup! This is very easy to double and freeze, and I'll often do that in the winter months so that when I'm just not up to cooking or going to the market to get ingredients I have a meal all ready! We serve this with tortilla chips, sour cream, and cheese, but it's great plain as well all fixed up!

Taco Soup

1 lb ground beef or turkey
1 package taco seasoning
1 package dry ranch dressing
1 can original rotel - found right next to all the tomato products
1 can garbanzo
1 can pinto
1 can kidney - I usually go with dark red
1 can corn
1 cans diced tomatoes - I usually do 1 diced and 1 sliced stewed because I like my soup chunky

--Brown beef while heating all other ingredients in large pot
--Don't drain or rinse anything!! -I think my mother would wriggle in disgust at this point, but really, it's good. And quite honestly, she loved it when she had it last night!
--Add meat when cooked and heat though.
--Dress with condiments if you'd like, or enjoy it in its naked goodness.

Meet Rotel! I totally forgot that I didn't even know what Rotel was until I got a hold of this recipe. It's usually located right by the tomatoes in the market.

Cream Cake with Butter cream Frosting

I am not a baker. I mush prefer the go-with-the-flow method of cooking. Throw a little of this and that in and it's ok. You can't be spontaneous (or as spontaneous) with baking. And if you can, I have yet to come across that recipe. About a week ago, I made a dessert (it'll be up here soon) that called for some whipping cream. After I was done with that dessert, I still had a cup of whipping cream left over that I didn't want to go to waste, so I started looking on my favorite recipe search engine ( and found this recipe. I followed a lot of the advice given, and made this cake, along with the butter cream frosting, last night for my folks. Everyone loved it! It was light and moist and most of all - yummy! It doesn't taste like a normal box cake at all, and quite honestly, I'm not sure if I'll even go back to a box mix for birthday cakes!

Cream Cake
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1.5 cups flour
--In a small bowl, mix together the salt, baking powder, and flour - set aside
--Beat eggs, sugar, and vanilla with electric mixer for close to 10 minutes - this is what gives it the light texture
--At the end of the 10 minutes, while still beating, very slowly add the whipping cream
--After the whipping cream has been beaten in well, slowly pour all the dry ingredients. Beat until smooth
--Pour into a greased 9-inch round, or 9x9 pan
--Bake for 35-40 minutes

Butter cream Frosting
  • 1/2 cup butter/margarine
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 2.5-3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 T milk
--Cream and beat all together until smooth

  • I added a little cinnamon to the cake batter to give it a more earthy flavor and it worked really well. I also sprinkled the finished cake with a little cinnamon.
  • I heated the frosting once I made it so it was a little thinner and easier to spread on the cake. The frosting recipe makes a lot, you could get away with halving it for this particular cake.
  • Other people make a jam-based glaze for the cake and I think that would work really well - even just powdered sugar on top would have been perfect. The cake is good enough on it's own, it doesn't need a rich frosting.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

I got this recipe from one of my all time favorite cooking blogs, The Sisters' Cafe, and have now made 2 batches and am planning to make a third for a ladies meeting I have next week. These are also going in the Christmas goody bags I give to family and friends! Super easy and delicious! Note: the recipe says to use 4 cups of almonds, but the almonds I bought came in a 3 cup bag - so mine are a little extra crunchy - SO good - I highly recommend it!

BEFORE going into the oven

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

Makes 4 cups (16, 1/4 cup servings)
Active time:  7 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes (until they're cool enough to eat!)

What you'll need:

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 cups whole almonds
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon

What you'll do:

  • Preheat oven to 250.
  • Beat egg white until frothy, add vanilla and beat until thick.
  • Add almonds and mix until entirely coated.
  • Mix sugar, cinnamon, and salt together and add to almonds and stir until well coated.
  • Spread almonds on a parchment paper lined baking sheet/pan - a jelly roll pan is best, if you have one
  • Bake for 1 hour stir after 30 minutes

Nutrition Facts (per 1/4 cup serving):
Calories 257 (Calories from fat 159); Total Fat 18g (Saturated 1g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 77mg; Potassium 257mg; Total Carbohydrate 21g (Dietary Fiber 5g); Sugars 14g; Protein 8g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 1 IU; Vitamin C 0mg; Calcium 98mg; Iron 1mg; Folate 18mcg

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lentil Soup

Here's another soup for you guys to try! I got this recipe from my friend, Britt, right after I got married and we have enjoyed it every fall/winter since! I always serve this with my cornbread, sometimes even adding a little rosemary to spice things up! The soup is great if you follow the recipe, but it's even better if you have some carrots or celery laying around that you can chop up and toss in there! It's so easy and it's one of Scot's favorites! Freezes so well. I usually double it and then freeze half for later!

Lentil Soup
serves: 4-6  9 cups total
Active time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
Serving Suggestions: Cornbread or a crusty bread along with a small side salad.

 What you'll need:

  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes (regular or Italian) with their juice OR 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper, to taste

 What you'll do:

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat--add onion, carrots, and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add broth and bring to a boil.
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, and Italian seasoning.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 45-50 minutes (or until lentils and vegetables are tender).  If the soup becomes too thick near the end of cooking, feel free to add up to a cup of water to thin it out a bit.  
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition Facts (per serving, 1/4 of base recipe):
Calories 255 (Calories from fat 37); Total Fat 4g (Saturated .6g); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 1128mg; Potassium 842mg; Total Carbohydrate 42g (Dietary Fiber 17g); Sugars 8g; Protein 14g; Vitamins/Minerals - Vitamin A 5825 IU; Vitamin C 16mg; Calcium 83mg; Iron 5mg; Folate 257mcg

Monday, November 2, 2009

Pumpkin Bars

Now that it's fall, break open the cans of pumpkin and pull out those yummy spices! This pumpkin bar recipe always gets rave reviews - I brought it to a ladies thing last week as well as our church fellowship lunch yesterday and I had hardly any to bring home to Scot! The key to this recipe is the pan size - don't try and use a 9x13, it just won't come out right. Also, the cream cheese frosting that goes on this is fantastic!

Pumpkin Bars
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup oil (you can sub half the oil for some applesauce)
  • 1 15oz can pumpkin
  • 2 cup flour
  • 2 t baking soda
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t salt

--Beat eggs, sugar, oil, and pumpkin.
--Add everything else.
--Spread into an ungreased 10x15 pan
--Bake 30-35 minutes

  • 8 ox cream cheese - soft
  • 1/2 cup butter - soft
  • 2 t vanilla
  • 4/5 cups powdered sugar

--Cream the butter, cream cheese, and vanilla together.
--Add the powdered sugar
--Spread on completely cooled cake

You may have some extra frosting, so get out the graham crackers or make sure to bake cup-cakes or something else!