Saturday, March 29, 2008

Stir Fry Shrimp and Asparagus

This is a quick meal for those nights when you haven't planned ahead. I used frozen jumbo shrimp, but fresh would be even better. It is asparagus season in the Northwest, so I used baby fresh asparagus that were wonderful. I made some brown rice to have with this dish. I will give the ingredients and method; the amounts are up to you.

1 bunch of fresh young asparagus
Thawed, frozen jumbo shrimp
Prepared chili-garlic sauce
Scallions, chopped in large pieces
Red bell peppers, sliced into strips
Soy sauce
Salt & pepper
Sesame seeds
Sliced almonds
Canola oil

Heat a wok on Med-Hi heat, with a little canola oil in the bottom. Add some chili-garlic sauce to the oil and stir around. Drop in the thawed shrimp and stir fry just a couple of minutes. Remove. In the same oil add the asparagus, which has been cleaned and chopped in half. At this time also add scallions, red pepper strips, and seasonings. At this time you can add more chili-garlic sauce if you like. Stir fry until the asparagus begins to wilt, then add seeds and almonds and continue stirring. Add the shrimp back into the mixture and then drizzle molasses over the top of all. Stir well and serve with rice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My Favorite Kale

I love to cook Kale because it reminds me of the years I lived in East Tennessee. As a child I hated and despised any kind of leafy greens, which was something my parents ate on a regular basis. As I've grown older my tastes have changed along the way, and now I really love spinach dishes, and Kale is one of my favorites. It is very easy to make and doesn't wilt down as much as other greens, so it makes a good amount. For a purely vegetarian version, use a little olive oil to brown the onion, and leave out the bacon. Still a delicious and nutritious dish.

This is my method:

1 bunch of leaf Kale

2 strips of lean bacon chopped in small crosswise slices

(optional) 1/4 of an onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon dry red pepper flakes

salt & pepper

A dash of vinegar

Rinse the leaves well by submerging in a large bowl of cold water. The curly leaves trap soil so rinse well. Using a very sharp knife, cut the stem out of each leaf. I fold them in half so there is just one easy cut and the stem is out. When all stems are removed, coarsely chop leaves in about 1-2 inch sections crosswise. In a very large pan over med-hi heat, brown the chopped bacon and (optional) onion for a minute or two. When they are starting to brown, add the chopped kale, salt & pepper, and pepper flakes. Stir, then turn heat down to medium. Add 2 cups water and cover. When it comes back to a boil, add a dash of vinegar to the greens and turn down to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until your choice of tenderness. Drain and serve with corn bread and beans. I always add red wine vinegar at the table.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

My daughter-in-law makes this recipe for my son and he raves about it. I asked her for the recipe because it sounded so delicious. I like anything with a Mexican flair. The recipe comes from the Campbell's Kitchen so it incorporates soup in the recipe. I made it and the results were wonderful. I will put my little adaptations in parentheses ( ). Try making it for your family because even the kids will like this one. And it's pretty easy. It made a full 9"x 13" casserole with 10 enchiladas.

1 can Campbell's Cream of Chicken soup
1-8oz container sour cream
1 cup Pace Picante Sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
(1-1/2 teaspoons cumin powder)
(Your favorite bottled hot sauce)
2 cups(4 small chicken breasts) chopped cooked chicken
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
10 flour tortillas, 6" size
1 cup chopped tomato
3 scallions, sliced thin

Stir the soup, sour cream, picante sauce, chili powder, (and cumin) in a medium bowl. Stir 1 cup picante sauce mixture, chicken and cheese in a large bowl (with a few dashes of hot sauce). Spread about 1/4 cup chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla. Roll up and place seam-side down in a 3 quart shallow baking dish. Pour the remaining picante sauce mixture over the filled tortillas. Cover the baking dish. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes (375 for 45 minutes) or until the enchiladas are hot and bubbling. Top with chopped tomato and scallions.

Tip for 2 cups chopped cooked chicken:
Heat 4 cups water in a large saucepan over medium heat to a boil. Add 1 pound skinless, boneless, chicken breasts or thighs, cubed and cook about 5 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Drain and chop the chicken smaller.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Orange Sourdough Pancakes with Orange Syrup

I made these pancakes on many occasion when I had my live sourdough starter. They melt in your mouth and are special enough to impress visitors. They are good with real maple syrup, but it covers some of the orange essence. The orange syrup recipe is easy. It's worth the trouble.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sourdough starter
1 cup orange juice
3 Tablespoons butter, melted
Orange Syrup, warmed

In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. Set aside. In a medium bowl beat the eggs. Stir in sourdough starter, orange juice and butter. Stir into flour mixture until dry ingredients are just moistened. Preheat griddle pan or electric griddle to medium high heat. When a drop of water bounces across the surface of the griddle, it is hot enough. Grease the griddle. For each pancake, pour 1/4 to 1/2 cup batter onto preheated griddle. Cook 1 to 2 minutes each side until golden brown. Serve with warm orange syrup. Makes 4 servings.

Orange Syrup

1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup butter

In a small saucepan, combine sugar, and cornstarch. Slowly stir in orange juice. Add butter. Stirring constantly, bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir until slightly thickened. Pour into a pitcher. Serve hot or cold. Makes about 1-1/2 cups.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Basic Pizza Dough Using A Bread Machine

This recipe came from my friend, who got it out of The Italian Cooking Encyclopedia. You can make calzones, pizza, or any other variation with this wonderful dough. It is done in the bread machine, so when it comes out it has already risen, and is ready to press out into shape. This recipe serves 4.

1 package dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
pinch of sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 to 3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

Dump everything, water first, into the bread machine. Select dough cycle. When it is finished, oil your hands and spread out into a pizza pan, or make smaller circles and do individual calzones.

Mable's Pizza Dough

This recipe is especially for Lucky over at The Great Motorcycle and Pizza Tour. When I was young my best friend's mother made large quantities of pizza dough, pressed it into pans, and put it in the freezer for future pizzas, covering each one with plastic wrap and possibly foil, from what I can remember. They were a teenager's dream. We would take one out and let it thaw slightly, put on the sauce, cheese and other toppings, and bake it. The recipe mentions keeping the dough in the refrigerator. Then you can use as needed. I guess it would keep a few days. This amount makes one pizza.

Here is Mable's recipe:

1/2 cup warm water
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-3/4 cup flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt and oil. Add 1/2 of the flour and beat until smooth. Stir in additional flour. Turn out on lightly floured board. Knead until smooth and elastic. Place in a greased bowl and brush with soft shortening or oil. Cover and place in the refrigerator. Remove and warm 15 minutes, then press out into pizza pan. Brush a little olive oil on the top before adding the sauce. Bake at 425 degrees until done.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Homemade Sausage Patties for Dinner

Tonight for dinner I decided to make a recipe for homemade pork sausage patties that I had seen on one of my favorite food blogs, Homesick Texan. I had purchased all the ingredients and just had to try it. The sausage was wonderful, and she is right. I will probably never purchase ready made sausage again. Here is the recipe, straight from Homesick Texan. I seasoned the sausage just as the recipe states and it was to my liking. It is spicy, but doesn't linger. I loved it.

Breakfast sausage Ingredients:

2 lbs of ground pork
1 tablespoon of sage
2 teaspoons of marjoram
2 teaspoons of thyme
2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper


1. Mix all ingredients together.
2. Form into patties and fry six minutes on each side. Keeps in the refrigerator for a week.

Note: The spice measurements are not an exact science, and what I tend to do while mixing is pinch off a little bit and fry it up to see if I like the flavor. This is what I start with, but feel free to experiment.

I served the sausage with homemade cornbread and cooked kale. It was a simple meal but wonderful. Of course, you can serve the sausage for breakfast. It would be great with eggs, biscuits and gravy.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Crimini Mushroom Soup

I usually create my meals out of an urgency to use up a particular fresh ingredient that I have on hand. This week it was a giant box of Crimini mushrooms from the giant food warehouse. They had to be used up, and quickly. I had everything in the house for this good soup recipe. I made it using my basic soup method to start. At the end I used a stick blender( the kind you make milkshakes with) right in the pan and pureed the soup until there were still a few chunky mushrooms left. This makes a good meal along with crusty french bread. We had flatbread and hummus with our soup.

3 Tablespoons butter
1-1/2 lbs. crimini mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cups chicken stock or 2 bouillion cubes with 3 cups hot water
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
1 can evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

In a large saucepan over med heat, saute the onion, celery, and mushrooms in the butter. When they start to carmelize a little, add the stock and seasonings. Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer for 25 minutes. Using a stick blender, blend soup in the pan. Leave some mushroom chunks if you prefer. Add the can of milk and 1 teaspoon parsely and bring back to a slow simmer. Mix cornstarch into 2 Tablespoons of milk or water. Stir while adding to soup. Cook on low 5 more minutes, stirring until thick. Adjust seasonings to taste.