Monday, June 25, 2012

Corn & Zucchini Saute

I'm continuing my summertime recipes as it's getting warmer and warmer down here already. We broke out the shorts last weekend!
Corn & Zucchini Saute
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped green onion
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 cups fresh corn (about 4 ears)
2 medium zucchini (1 lb), quartered lengthwise, then cut cross-wise into 1/4-inch pieces
1/4 tsp ground cumin
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat till hot but not smoking, then cook green onions, stirring occasionally till softened about 3 min. Add garlic and cook, stirring 1 min. Add corn, zucchini, cumin, salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, till zucchini is tender, four to six minutes. Stir in cilantro and season more with salt and pepper, if needed.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Herb and Cream Cheese Fondue

I recently received this e-mail from a friend. She had just sampled some and verified its superbness for us...
Herb and Cream Cheese Fondue Recipe
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped, or ½ tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped, or ½ tablespoon dried
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped, or ½ tablespoon driec
3 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 to 1 ½ cups light cream
In a large, heavy, non-stick skillet, saute’ the garlic in the olive oil, just until tender.  Add the cream cheese, and continue cooking on low heat, stirring until the cheese is smooth and melted. Gradually stir in the cream, a little at a time until the mixture reaches the right consistency for dipping.  (It thickens as it cools.)  Add the parsley, oregano and basil, and continue cooking for two or three minutes to the let the herb flavors blend.  Transfer to a warm ceramic fondue pot. Serve with cooked, shelled shrimp, tortellini, French bread, Wheat Thins, scallops, chicken, vegetables, etc.
Note:  The recipe can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, but you will need to add more cream before serving. (It thickens when chilled.)  Shrimp and scallops cook quickly and dry easily when overcooked, so it’s best to prepare them shortly before serving this fondue recipe.  Serves 6

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Penne & Spinach Pasta Toss

This recipe combines three of my favorite qualities - quick, easy and delicious! And it will be another great recipe for the summer months.
Penne & Spinach Pasta Toss
8 oz penne or ziti, uncooked
8 cups (8 oz) packed baby or torn spinach leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 3/4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Cook pasta according to package directions, adding spinach to water durng last minute of cooking and stirring till wilted.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 2 min. Add broth and bring to a simmer, cook 4 min.
Drain pasta and spinach; add to skillet, tossing well. Simmer 2 min., tossing frequently. Stir in tomato; heat through. Toss cheese lightly in mixture with two spoons till cheese slightly melts. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is from the April 2005 issue of Everyday Food and it is quite good. The sweet and sour sauce is not too thick, too sweet or too cloying. I think it will be a great warm-weather recipe addition to the Secret Recipe Box. 
Sweet and Sour Chicken
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp cornstarch
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1/3 cup rice vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
4 tsp sugar
3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 bell peppers (red, green, yellow or a combination), cut into 1-inch pieces
8 scallions, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces, white and green parts separated
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Cooked white rice
1 cup pineapple tidbits
In a large bowl, toss chicken with 1 tbsp each soy sauce and cornstarch, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. In another bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp soy sauce and tbsp cornstarch, vinegar, ketchup, sugar and 1/2 cup water; set aside.
Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high. Cook half the chicken, turning occasionally, until browned and almost cooked through, 4 min.; remove. Cook the remaining chicken in another tbsp oil; remove.
Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan. Add peppers, white parts of scallions and garlic; cook over med-hi, stirring, till peppers are crisp-tender, about 3 min.
Whisk soy-sauce mixture; add to pan. Return chicken; add scallion greens and pineapple. Cook, stirring, till sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through, about 2 min. Serve immediately over rice.

Friday, June 22, 2012

We can make this hard or we can make this easy...

Crawfish Etouffe (The Hard Way and The Easy Way)
6 tbsp butter
4 tbsp flour
2 c. chopped onion
1/2 c. chopped celery
1/2 c. chopped bell pepper
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme (or EASY: dump dry thyme in as desired)
2 1/2 cup fish or shrimp stock (HARD: Make stock by boiling crawfish shells, heads, etc. in water with cut up onion or EASY: 2 1/2 cup canned chicken broth)
1 c. diced tomatoes (or EASY: 1 can diced tomatoes, rinsed and drained)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp red pepper
Hot pepper sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire
2 lb crawfish tails - save shells to make broth  (or EASY: 2 lb frozen crawfish tails, thawed)
1/2 lemon, juiced (or EASY: a few teaspoons of lemon juice)
1 c. chopped green onions
1/4 c. chopped parsley (or EASY: sprinkle dried parsley till it looks right)
In a large heavy saucepan, melt 4 tbsp butter and whisk in flour. Make peanut butter-colored roux. (The only way to make a roux easier is to keep a bottle of wine by the pot.) Add veggies and seasoning. Cook 6 to 8 min. Add stock, tomatoes and spices. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30 min. Add crawfish, lemon juice, green onions and parsley and cook for 15 to 20 min. Add remaining butter and stir to combine. Serve over rice.
I have tried it both ways. Both are delicious!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Zesty Barbecued Shrimp

Melt a stick of butter in the pan. Slice one lemon and layer it on top of the butter. Put down l to 1 1/2 lbs. large or jumbo fresh shrimp, then sprinkle one pack of dried Zesty Italian dressing mix. Put in the oven and bake at 350 for 15 min.

Serve with toasted French bread slices to sop up the butter. (Can put the bread in at 350 degrees for about 10 min. and it will be ready.)


(This is the first time I've made this recipe and mine were a little hard to peel. Might try a little less time next time.)

Cream of Coconut Cake

Cream of Coconut Cake
  • 1 (18.25 ounce) package white cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup cream of coconut
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 lb confectioners' sugar
  • Flaked coconut (optional)
  • Toasted hazelnuts (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 9x13 inch pan (for a sheet cake) or two 9-inch pans (for a layer cake - my preference).
  2. Combine the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, cream of coconut and the sour cream and mix well for 4 minutes. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 to 40 minutes. Let cake cool then frost with cream cheese frosting and top with flaked coconut.
  4. To Make Frosting: Combine the softened cream cheese, vanilla, almond extract, and confectioners' sugar. Mix until smooth and spread over cooled cake. Top with flaked coconut and toasted hazelnuts, if desired.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mediterranean Vegetable-Cheese Pie

I tried out some summer fare recently as the temperatures are already beginning to rise down South. I baked the pie for Saturday night supper but it actually taste better for brunch on Sunday - I think the flavors need a little time to meld together - and I will add salt to the recipe when I try it again. It needs some. The recipe is from Self magazine, April 2005 - they attribute it to Rancho La Puerta Spa, Tecate, Baja, California.
Mediterranean Vegetable-Cheese Pie
Olive oil cooking spray
2 med.-sized potatoes, peeled and sliced in 1/8-inch rounds
8 oz (about 8 cups) baby spinach
3 kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 whole eggs
3 egg whites
1 cup nonfat ricotta or cottage cheese
1 tbsp feta, crumbled
3 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil or dill (or 3 tsp dry)
3 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/4-inch rounds
1 1/2 tbsp grated Asiago or Parmesan
1 1/2 tbsp grated lowfat mozzarella
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Line bottom of plate with potato slices. Cut remaining slices in half and arrange around side of plate. Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside. Coat a saute pan with cooking spray and saute onion over low heat till tender, about 5 min. Add spinach to pan and let wilt, about 2 to 3 min. Remove from heat. Drain excess fluid from onion and spinach mixture. Stir in olives.
In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs and egg whites. Stir in ricotta and feta. Add half the basil or dill and set aside. Spoon onion and spinach mixture into pie plate over potatoes. Layer on egg mixture, then slices of tomato. Bake 20 to 25 min. or till egg is set and a knife inserted into pie comes out clean. Sprinkle grated cheeses evenly over top of pie and top with remaining basil or dill. Return to oven for 5 min. or till cheese melts. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 min. Cut pie into four wedges. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 192 calories, 4.8 g fat (2 g saturated), 20.5 g carbohydrates, 17.5 g protein, 7.8 g fiber

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Glazed Lemon Cake

This cake is easy to make and delicious! Everytime I bring it, I get asked for the recipe. (I have also added poppyseeds to the recipe for a neighbor that wanted a lemon poppyseed cake and I have baked it like a bread loaf. It's very versatile.)

Glazed Lemon Cake

1 package white cake mix
1 package instant lemon pudding
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup lemon-lime soda
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix, pudding mix, oil and eggs; beat on medium for one min. Gradually beat in soda. Pour into a 13x9x2 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.

Combine sugar and lemon juice and spread over warm cake.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Crockpot Shrimp Creole

Crockpot Shrimp Creole

1 1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup diced green pepper
28 oz. diced tomatoes
16 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
Tabasco to taste
1 lb fresh shrimp, shelled

Combine all ingredients except shrimp in crockpot. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours or high for 3 to 4 hours. During last hour, turn crockpot to high and add shrimp. Cook one hour. (Goes great with a green salad and a loaf of Gambino's French Bread.)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Sausage and Pepper Stew

This recipe is from the February/March 1999 Fine Cooking. (Yes, I've been making it that long.)

I, of course, take several shortcuts. I have included the original recipe here, but I don't tie up a bouquet garni - I just dump dried basil into the soup (so much for "fine cooking" at my house). I also cut the sausage up into small pieces before sauteing in oil, rather than leaving them whole. I don't use 3 tbsp olive oil - I just mist a little olive oil in the pot I cook the stew in. (I'm sure the sausage is enough fat for one recipe.) And double the recipe because this freezes well!

Sausage & Pepper Stew

3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 lb hot Italian sausages
1 med. onion, thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 green bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into thin strips
28-oz can tomatoes, drained and chopped (I use diced though)
2 cups water
3/4 cup uncooked small pasta (tubetti, ditali or shells)
5 sprigs fresh basil and 5 sprigs fresh mint, tied together in a bouquet garni
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large skillet with a lid, heat the olive oil over med-hi heat. Add the sausages and onion; cook, turning the sausages to brown all sides, until the onions are just tender, about 8 min. Add the garlic and bell peppers and cook another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes, water, pasta, basil, mint, salt and pepper (make sure the pasta is submerged). Raise the heat to high and cook until the liquid starts to boil. Turn the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the sausages feel firm and the pasta is tender, about 25 min. Cut the sausages into slices or leave whole for serving.

Friday, June 15, 2012

"Nice job, assholes."

That's how John Currence summed up on Twitter New Orleans' Times-Picayune decision to dismiss Brett Anderson as their food critic. Also on Twitter, Susan Langenhennig announced that she will take over that role eventually. (She is the fashion editor and has been doing food reviews off and on.)

It will be interesting to see how food/restaurant reviews change as newspapers change. I can remember a time when every local newspaper had a "critic." A critic that was actually a critic and reported honestly on the food and service. The argument has always been that no one will buy advertising from folks criticizing their product - but now most have switched 180 degrees to slick PR pieces couched as food journalism (sometimes hilariously obviously).

But if a food critic can't survive in a town as food-centric as New Orleans, where can he?

Update: It seems Anderson is on a sabbatical, not unemployed.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This was dinner tonight. A little late. Because I swore I had bread crumbs, but didn't. I think my husband thought I was just coming up with an excuse for a scooter ride, but I really thought we had breadcrumbs.

Anyways, if you don't forget the breadcrumbs, you should be able to start prep at 6:30 p.m. and have it on the table by 7:30 p.m. I bought the thin-sliced breasts and didn't beat them, but I think they still could have used some beating. (And, in my book, any excuse to use a meat mallet is a good one! Everyone talks about getting the newlywed woman a rolling pin to garner some respect around the house, but I'd take a meat mallet instead any ol' day.)

Cooking Light recommended serving it with mashed potatoes and green beans, but it's pretty filling on its own, so I just served it with sauteed asparagus. And I substituted Canadian bacon for prosciutto. (If you're bored one afternoon, walk in to your local Wal-mart and ask someone where the prosciutto is. It didn't end well. I just went with the Canadian Bacon. And in all fairness I know where the prosciutto is at Kroger and I never have to ask, so maybe the response would be similar.)

While making it, I started wondering why it's called "cordon bleu." No blue cheese. It just means "blue ribbon" in French so no help there.Wikipedia is not much help on the history - just says it's not named after the famous cooking school. Then I discovered, despite the French name, the dish is distinctly American. Just a trendy, fancy name for a trendy, fancy dish served at trendy, fancy restaurants...and at my house, too, of course!

A keeper recipe no matter the name! Enjoy!