Sunday, November 18, 2007

Holiday Spiced Nuts

I know it is getting to the holiday season when the spiced nuts make an appearance. My mom has made them for years, including for gifts and church fairs. I've carried on the tradition and am including them in this week's Thanksgiving menu. These nuts are just so easy to pop back, especially when waiting for the bird to finish cooking, or while lazily watching the Detroit Lions play in the afternoon.

And the best parts? Hardly any ingredients, about 3 minutes of prep time, and so easy to make!

Mom's Spiced Nuts

  • 1 Egg White
  • 1-2 tsp. Water
  • 3/4 C. White Sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2-2 1/2 C. Plain Dry Roasted Peanuts

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg white and water until good and foamy.
  3. Fold in the sugar, pumpkin spice, and salt. Blend until consistent.
  4. Stir in peanuts to coat.
  5. On a cookie sheet, pour out the coated peanuts in a flat layer. Any remaining glaze should be poured on the nuts.
  6. Bake for 25 minutes. Enjoy the wonderful smells!
  7. Remove from oven and IMMEDIATELY pour into a bowl. Break apart the nuts. As they cool, occasionally stir to keep large hunks to a minimum. Allow to cool before eating.

Greek Chicken Salad & Lemon Cous Cous

I mentioned in my last post, I have been a super slacker in the kitchen this week. I had to snap out of it last night- I mean, it is the weekend where I have tons of time to cook and I was once again out of ideas.

We did however have some great raw ingredients to work with, so I I pushed myself for a new dinner. Feta cheese, green olives, spinach, and Greek dressing worked together for a really great meal. Hubby can't make it through a meal without a starch, so along side the healthy salad, I made a quick cous cous meal. I wish I had more lemon juice- a little more tang would have been nice.

I'd like to put down on the record that hubby lit the grill and I went out and endured grilling in sub-freezing temperatures. That's right, I'm hearty New Englander baby!

As Grilled Chicken Greek Salad

  • 1 Chicken Breast
  • 1/2 C. Greek Dressing
  • Fresh Spinach
  • 3 Medium Tomatoes, cut into large slices
  • Green Olives, cut in half
  • Feta Cheese
  • Greek Dressing

  1. Marinade chicken breast in the 1/2 C. of dressing for 1-2 hours in the fridge.
  2. Grill the chicken until cooked through but still moist. Remove from grill and when safe to touch, slice into long pieces to top salad.
  3. Arrange the spinach, tomato, green olives, chicken, and feta on the plate. Drizzle with Greek dressing to taste.

Lemon Cous Cous
  • 1 C. Water
  • 1 C. Plain Cous Cous
  • 2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice (either fresh squeezed or another 2+ Tbsp. would have made this better.)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. Pine Nuts, toasted
  • Black Pepper to taste
  • Olive Oil to moisten cooked pasta

  1. Bring water to a boil. Stir in cous cous, remove from heat, and cover.
  2. After 5 minutes, cous cous should be cooked. Stir in lemon juice, a splash of oil, pine nuts, and a grind or two of pepper.
  3. Enjoy warm with some feta sprinkled on top if desired.

Cajun Catfish N’ Biscuits

This week I have been a bad cook- we’ve eaten a lot of pasta & jarred sauce and other less than exciting meals. Some times I just don’t want to cook, ya’ know?

I had however started off the week well though with a little number inspired by the Cajun bayou. I was very, very stuffed up though, so although I thought it was going to be spicy, hubby reported that although the flavor was good, it could have been “kicked up another notch.” I cook by smell most of the time, so a stuffy nose does not make a good companion in the kitchen.

Funny story around this… so I’m making the sauce that is supposed to have a nice heat to it. I’m smelling it and just getting steam in my face. Hmph. So, in an effort to make sure dinner tastes good, I taste it. Unfortunately, I tasted it with the whisk I was working with that was super hot from being in the sauce! Subsequently, I ended up with two thin white burn marks on the front of my tongue where the whisk sizzled on it. What a dummy!

Good thing dinner was really tasty!

Cajun Catfish
Inspired by

  • 3 Medium Catfish Fillets (About 1.25 Lb.)
  • 1 Egg
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 C. Flour
  • 1/4 C. Cornmeal
  • Spices: Black Pepper, Dried Thyme, Chili Powder, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Salt)
    Vegetable Oil

  1. Mix together the egg and lemon juice in one bowl, and the flour, corn meal, and spices in another.
  2. Heat a large skillet over medium to high heat, coating the bottom with oil.
  3. Rinse and pat dry the catfish fillets. Dip the fillets into the egg mixture and then the cornmeal mixture.
  4. Place each fillet in the hot pan. Cook each side until it is a deep brown and the fish is cooked through.
  5. Remove fillets when cooked and place on a paper towel to drain. Serve with the accompanying cream sauce.

Sauce (Note- next time I’d try to make it thinner. Either less flour or more liquids!)
  • 1 Green Pepper, chopped
  • 1 Shallot, minced
  • 1 Garlic Clove, minced
  • 1 C. Sliced Mushrooms
  • 3. Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 1 C. Cream
  • 1/2 C. White Wine
  • Spices to taste- go heavy! Dried Basil, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Salt, Dried Parsley, Red Pepper Flakes, Dried Thyme, 1 Bay Leaf (crumbled), Garlic Powder, Chili Powder OR Cajun Spice Mix

  1. In a medium saucepan, drizzle in a bit of olive oil and heat over medium heat. Saute peppers, shallot, garlic and mushrooms. Remove from pan and set aside.
  2. Melt butter in pan. Add in flour and whisk until smooth. Continue stirring often until roux turns a medium brown.
  3. Stir in cream and bring to a low boil. This will thicken the sauce. Continue to stir to prevent burning, and reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Stir in white wine until smooth. Add in spices to taste, keeping it a little spicy. Stir in the reserved sauteed vegetables.
  5. Serve over fish and use for dipping biscuits.

Home Style Biscuits
  • 2 C. Flour
  • 4 Tbsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 1/2 tsp. Cream of Tartar
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1/2 C. Cold Butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 C. Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Mix together all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Using a pastry knife, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it is crumbly.
  4. Arrange the mixture with a well in the middle. Pour milk into the center and mix together until it is all wet.
  5. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface so it is about 1” thick. Use a biscuit cutter to cut the individual biscuits. Reroll out dough once or twice more to use excess for additional biscuits.
  6. Place on an ungreased baking sheet and bake in heated oven for 10 minutes or until golden.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Autumn in Paris

Well, it's autumn in Portland and I made myself French toast for breakfast on Sunday! (And before you hear if from my husband all distorted, no, I didn't make any for him. He got up first and I found him eating leftover Thai seafood noodles for breakfast. That was his choice. I couldn't offer my better option in time.)

Anyway, the French toast was nothing out of the ordinary. It's special because I rarely have something as tasty as homemade French toast for breakfast. I wanted to kick it up though, make it something exciting. I have a bunch of apples that I bought with intentions of eating as healthy snacks and are getting ready to go bad.

I opted to make a tasty apple pie inspired, true autumn treat topping. It was really good. I would have even shared!

French Toast with Apple Pie Topping

  • 1 Egg
  • 1/2 C. Milk
  • Cinnamon
  • 2 Slices of Bread
  • 1 Apple
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1-2 tsp. Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/4 tsp. Ground Cloves

  1. Core, slice, and chop apples into small bite sized pieces.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt butter on low heat. Add in apples and measured spices.
  3. Stir apples occasionally and cook on low for about 15 minutes until apples soften and start to break down.
  4. While apples cook, whisk egg and milk together.
  5. Heat a small to medium saute pan over medium heat. Dip one slice of bread in the egg mixture, lightly soaking the slice on either side.
  6. Place slice in hot pan and sprinkle generously with cinnamon. Cook on one side for 3-5 minutes so the egg will set. Flip and cook the other side in the same manner. Repeat with other slice of bread.
  7. Serve warm with maple syrup (if desired- and who doesn't desire it on french toast?) and warm apple topping piled on top.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Quick N' Dirty Hamburger Stroganoff

It's getting COLD up here in Maine! Hubby says it might get down to 15 degrees tonight- brrrr! It made me want some fast and friendly comfort food. I really wanted chicken pot pie, but I had no pie crusts in the freezer, and I don't do homemade crust, especially for pot pie. Meatloaf would have been great, but aw gee, I didn't want to wait over an hour to eat- I was hungry man!

SO I went for an old stand by that hubby just loves- Beef Stroganoff. Usually I make it with fresh mushrooms and other healthier ingredients, but ya know what, I was a-ok with quick and dirty to get it cooked quickly. And Adam loved it as much as usual.

Darling Nesties from WC- yes, I used COC. I know fresh is better. I didn't care and I'm not ashamed. Thanks. ;-)

Fast Hamburger Stroganoff
From Betty Crocker

  • 1 Medium Onion, chopped
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/4 Lbs. 90% Lean Ground Beef
  • 1 Can Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup
  • 3/4 C. Plain Yogurt
  • 1/2 C. Sour Cream
  • 2 C. Cooked Rice or Cooked Egg Noodles

  1. Cook up rice or noodles.
  2. In a large saute pan, cook the onion and garlic until tender.
  3. Add in hamburger and cook through. Drain if necessary.
  4. Stir in cream of mushroom and simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Stir in sour cream and yogurt and cook until heated through.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thai Seafood Noodles

This is a recipe I came up with a couple of years ago and actually wrote down. I don't know that I've made it again before this week, but and that's too bad- it's quite tasty.

I should have made it spicier and I way over cooked the rice pasta. It was more like formed rice paste, not pasta. Tasty, but not the right texture. I would write more about this recipe, but honestly I'm kind of tired and it kind of speaks for itself. If you like the ingredients, and like Thai flavored foods, you'll probably like this!

Thai Seafood Noodles

  • 2 Tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 2 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. Rice Vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Lobster Bouillon (This is a paste that comes in a small jar.)
  • 1/2+ tsp. Ground Ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. Dried Basil
  • 1/8+ tsp. Chili Flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. Chili Powder
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 1 Garlic Clove, chopped
  • Juice of Half a Lime
  • 1 C. Water
  • 1 Can Sliced Mushrooms, drained OR 1/2 C. Fresh Sliced Mushrooms
  • 1/2 C. Frozen Peas
  • 1/2 - 3/4 Lbs. Raw Medium Shrimp
  • 1 Can Crabmeat
  • 1 Green Onion Stalk, sliced
  • 1 Small Package Rice Noodles

  1. In a large saute pan, mix together oil, soy sauce, vinegar, lobster bouillon, honey and spices. Heat over medium/ medium-high until bubbling. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  2. In another pot, get water boiling for the rice noodles. Do not start cooking the rice noodles too early, or you will end up with mush. Try to time cooking the noodles so the sauce and pasta will be ready at the same time.
  3. Add the garlic and onion to the saute pan with sauce. Cook until tender.
  4. Squeeze in the lime juice and stir. Slowly add in water to stretch the sauce and lessen the intense flavor. Continue simmering sauce, adding water as necessary.
  5. Add in mushrooms and cook until soft and warm. Peas get added next and cooked until thawed.
  6. Cook shrimp and crabmeat in the sauce.
  7. When seafood is cooked through, serve mixture over drained rice noodles. Garnish with sliced green onions for color and added flavor.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fake Spinach Alfredo

Mmmm, alfredo sauce... so tasty, so bad for you! Cream, cheese, pasta- quite the indulgent meal. And I just can't justify making it for an average Tuesday night! I had a plan to make soup mid-week this week, but hubby groaned at the notion. He was slaving over a school project and I could tell soup just wasn't going to motivate him into the wee hours as he continued working.

The man loves pasta, so I went out to the web for a pasta recipe with the stuff on hand. That would be no tomatoes, no tomato sauce, not a lot of meat, and most importantly not a lot of time to whip something up before it would be 10 PM! I did however have ricotta cheese, fresh spinach, an abundance of cans of mushroom pieces, and pasta.

This meal was really tasty! Adam liked it more than I, but I would certainly make it again given it's relative health and the closeness to true alfredo. Some grilled chicken slices would have really capped this meal off! And the best was that Adam was thrilled at the last minute change- I love keeping my man full and happy.

Fake Spinach & Mushroom Alfredo Fettuccine
Inspired by

  • 1 Box Fettuccine Pasta
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 1-2 C. Milk
  • 1+ C. Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese
  • 1/2 C. Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 1/2 C. Grated Romano Cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1 C. Fresh Spinach, chopped
  • 1 Small Can Mushroom Stems and Pieces, drained

  1. Boil up a pot of water and cook pasta. When done, drain and keep warm for serving.
  2. In a large straight sided saute pan, melt butter and saute garlic over medium heat.
  3. Mix in flour and stir until smooth and bubbly. Be sure not to burn the flour mixture.
  4. Slowly pour in the milk and whisk. Bring to a boil, continuing to stir until the white sauce thickens.
  5. Add in ricotta cheese and stir until cheese melts into sauce and becomes smooth. Stir in Parmesan and Romano cheese.
  6. Add black pepper to taste. Stir in spinach and mushrooms. Heat through.
  7. Spoon hot alfredo sauce mixture over pasta and enjoy!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Roasted Eggplant Rounds

I really do try to incorporate more vegetables into our diet. It's not that I have a problem with veggies, it's just I'm not as accustomed to cooking with them. Meat and pasta are a lot easier as the main stars.

I bought this eggplant with the intention of making eggplant rollatinis. Unfortunately a chunk of it started to rot and we were out of pasta sauce. (Hubby goes through sauce like water- that man of mine loves pasta!) Then ensued the quick scramble to come up with something to use up the eggplant before it goes bad and doesn't involved tomato sauce.

This is what I came up with- roasted eggplant rounds. They were pretty good! Some of the rounds got a little soggy, and I could have used less sausage (ok, fake sausage). But it was very good over cous cous and we still got the eggplant flavor.

I should note that I hope I get this recipe right- I made it over a week ago now from when I'm typing this and sometimes I forget what the heck I did. Sorry in advance!

Roasted Eggplant Rounds
Inspired by

  • 1 Large Eggplant
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 1 Clove of Garlic, minced (I'm guessing I used garlic- I use garlic in everything.)
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • 1 C. Cooked Sausage Meat (I used our generic soy sausage stuff.)
  • Oregano, Basil, Black Pepper and possibly other Italian type spices
  • 1/2 C. (or less) Shred Mozzarella Cheese
  • Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Discard the very top and bottom of the eggplant. Slice 1/2"-1/4" rounds starting from the top. You'll want around 18 rounds. The remaining base should be chopped into cubes.
  3. On a cookie sheet, place rounds in a single layer. I did not treat the baking pan and probably should have lightly rubbed olive oil on it to keep the rounds from sticking. Bake eggplant for about 15 minutes.
  4. In a small saute pan, heat some olive oil and saute the onions and garlic. When tender, add in tomato, eggplant chunks, and spices. Simmer until eggplant is tender.
  5. When done, put into a bowl or container on the side. Stir in the cooked sausage.
  6. When eggplant is baked, remove from oven. Spoon small amount of the sausage mixture onto each round. Sprinkle a pinch of mozzarella onto each round and return to oven for about 15 minutes until cheese is melted.
  7. Remove from oven and grate fresh Parmesan on each round. Serve over jasmine rice or cous cous.

Friday, November 2, 2007

So Gooooouda!

Whoo-wee baby, dinner was so darn tasty last night. I mean, seriously good. And simple- I love it!

I have a variety of odds and ends left over from the Halloween party last weekend. I hate letting things go to waste, so this week I've been trying to plan meals around what's poking around the ol' fridge.

Things to be used up last night: very ripe avocados, smoked Gouda cheese
Things to be made: Avocado & Corn Salsa, Quesadillas with Gouda & Caramelized Onions

Wow- so tasty. They paired really well together too... the cool salsa meshed well with the rich quesadillas, though I admit, I pretty much chowed my 2 quesadillas without much regard for the salsa. It was a side thought as I mowed through the good stuff.

Quesadillas with Smoked Gouda & Caramelized Onions

  • 1 Large White Onion, chopped into thin slices
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 C. Finely Grated Smoked Gouda Cheese
  • 1/2 C. Finely Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1/4 Lb. Thick Sliced Prosciutto, chopped into .25-.5" squares
  • 4 Large Tortillas

  1. In a small saute pan on medium-high heat, heat the vinegar and oil.
  2. Add in the onions and saute for a minute or two. Reduce heat to medium.
  3. Stir in the brown sugar to coat onions as best as possible. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes to caramelize. Finish cooking onions before prepping the quesadillas.
  4. In a large skillet, place a tortilla in the pan and heat over medium to medium-high. Place a quarter of the shredded cheeses (reserve a pinch of the quarter of cheese), then prosciutto, and then caramelized onions to one side.
  5. Sprinkle remaining pinch of the quarter of cheese on top of the other fillings. Heat tortilla for about 30 seconds and then fold uncovered side.
  6. Heat quesadilla through so cheese melts. Flip if you don't think it will fall apart. Serve hot or warm.

Corn & Avocado Salsa
  • 2 Avocados, cubed
  • 1/2 C. Frozen Corn Kernels, defrosted, but not hot
  • 1 Can of Mexican Seasoned Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Small Can of Sliced Black Olives

  1. Mix together all ingredients and let sit for a few minutes for flavors to blend. Serve as a complete side or as a topping.