Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Water, water, everywhere....

We've all read those stats of how many gallons of water we're supposed to drink a day.  I try...but good grief, I don't want to drown.

I found a blurb in Men's Health magazine that pointed out some other ways to take in that needed H2O.  Bonus is that you get fiber and nutrients at the same time. Here's the list (with percentages of water content by weight):

  • Cucumber (97%)
  • Radishes (95%)
  • Celery (95%)
  • Watermelon (91%)
  • Broccoli (89%)
  • Peaches (89%)
  • Yogurt (88%)
  • Carrots (88%)
  • Plums (87%)
  • Apples (86%)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chicken Pot Pie with Potatoes and Leeks

It's finally starting to cool off here in Big D, so I'm ready to turn the oven back on. This one is worth the heat...

I'll admit that I don't use leeks a lot.  They are pretty labor intensive; you have to wash them carefully and then cut/cook them just right so you don't end up eating an approximation of an onion peel. But they are perfect in this recipe, adding a flavor that mere celery and/or onion couldn't provide.

Chicken Pot Pie with Potatoes and Leeks
Makes 6 servings.

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 slice bacon, chopped
1 1/2 cups cubed red potato (about 8 ounces)
1 large carrot, chopped
4 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 leeks, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced (After slicing them, put in a bowl of cold water to clean thoroughly.)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 cups chicken broth
1 pie crust from a package of refrigerated crusts
1 tablespoon milk
1 large egg, slightly beaten

Preheat oven to 450°.

Cook bacon in the olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until almost crisp, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high. Add potato and carrot to pan; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chicken; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in flour and next 3 ingredients (through pepper); sauté 1 minute, stirring frequently.

Slowly add broth to pan, stirring constantly; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally. Spoon mixture into a 1 1/2-quart glass or ceramic baking dish. Top with dough, folding under and pressing down on edges to seal.

Combine milk and egg white; brush mixture over top of dough. Cut small slits in dough to vent. Bake at 450° for 30 minutes or until crust is golden. Let stand 10 minutes to cool before serving.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Lamb Lettuce Wraps

This is a nice Greek-Turkish fusion dish.  I ran across the recipe in Cooking Light magazine and adapted it slightly with a little less cinnamon and a bit of oregano.  And while they suggested hummus mixed with yogurt and a parsley/tomato/cucumber salad as toppings, we went full-on gyro with some tzatziki and a sprinkling of feta.  Speaking of, it would be yummy in a pita bread, although these lettuce wraps make it friendlier to folks avoiding the dreaded carbohydrate.

Lamb Lettuce Wraps
Makes 4 servings.
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
6 ounces ground lamb (If your grocery doesn't carry, buy a 10 ounce bone-in lamb chop, strip off the bone and grind in your food processor.)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 Boston lettuce leaves
Garnishes: tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, toasted pine nuts, chopped mint

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Add oil and swirl to coat.  Cook onion for 2-3 minutes until just starting to turn translucent.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add lamb, cinnamon, oregano, salt and pepper to pan.  Sauté until lamb is done, about 5 minutes. Let cool slightly.

To serve, place about 1/4 cup lamb mixture in each lettuce leaf and garnish as you see fit.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

It's Sunday Brunch Time

Nothing better than Eggs Benedict for a leisurely Sunday brunch.  This version, which we devoured this morning, uses delicious prosciutto in place of Canadian bacon.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Easy Key Lime Pie

This is one of the best..and definitely the easiest to make..Key lime pies ever.

Easy Key Lime Pie
From Real Simple magazine.

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

1 6-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate (not thawed)
1 cup heavy cream
1 6-ounce graham cracker pie crust
zest of 1 lime
Place the condensed milk, limeade concentrate, and cream in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat until fluffy and soft peaks form.

Pour the filling into the pie crust and smooth the top. Refrigerate until chilled and loosely set, at least 4 hours (and up to overnight).

Sprinkle the pie with the zest before serving.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Fish Tacos

There's lots of tilapia in our freezer.  I do a simple pan saute with it often, but here's a good way to switch things up.

Fish Tacos
Makes 8 tacos.

1 pound tilapia, cut into 8 equal portions
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

Lightly coat each fish portion with flour.  Shake off the excess flour and dip into beaten egg.  Let excess drip back in to dish and dredge in panko.

Fry fish in a little oil in a saute pan until cooked through and golden brown.

Serve on corn tortillas topped with shredded cabbage and pickled radishes.  Or whatever garnishes you can come up with...

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Tuesday Tips

I try to be frugal in the kitchen.  While I don't spare on quality ingredients, I try not throw anything away.  Leftover wine goes into the vinegar crock.  (If you've never had homemade red wine vinegar, you don't know what you've missed.) Stale bread becomes breadcrumbs in the freezer before it goes bad.  And cherry tomatoes just past their prime get roasted and tossed in pasta for a light dinner.

Here are a couple more thrifty ideas that I was reminded of by a perusal of a recent issue of Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine.

  • If you've clipped too much of a woody herb like rosemary or thyme, tie it with twine and hang upside down for a week or so.  Transfer to a jar and use as dried herbs.
  • Keep a large zip-loc bag in the freezer. Dump veggie trimmings (onion peels, carrot tops, wilted celery) in and use to make stock periodically.  (The stock can be frozen too.  If you put into an ice cube tray, freeze and then store in another plastic bag, you can add to sauces and pasta dishes for an extra kick of flavor.)
  • And this one my grandmother would appreciate.  Strain sediment out of bacon grease after you've fried up a batch and keep in a jar in the refrigerator for up to six months.  Just a little (only half a teaspoon or so) adds a lot of flavor when you are frying an egg or sauteing greens.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin

It's Labor Day, but I can still find summer goodies at the farmers market.  Hopefully you can also.  If so, this is a perfect casserole that combines tomatoes and yellow squash--two ingredients ubiquitous in many a summer garden. As well as some fresh basil that is thriving despite the unbearable heat. And, of course, everything's better with a little Gruyere and some breadcrumbs.

Tomato, Squash and Red Pepper Gratin
From Cooking Light magazine.
Makes 6-8 servings.

5 teaspoons olive oil, divided
2 cups chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper
1 pound yellow squash, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices (about 3 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup cooked quinoa (Note:  I dind't have quinoa handy so I used some cooked wild rice.)
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
3 ounces aged Gruyère cheese, shredded (about 3/4 cup)
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 1/2 ounces French bread baguette, torn
1 (12-ounce) beefsteak tomato, seeded and cut into 8 slices

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 teaspoons oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 3 minutes. Add bell pepper; cook 2 minutes. Add squash and garlic; cook 4 minutes. Place vegetable mixture in a large bowl. Stir in quinoa, 1/4 cup basil, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and black pepper.

Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, milk, cheese, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add milk mixture to vegetable mixture, stirring until just combined. Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7–inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Place bread in a food processor; pulse until coarse crumbs form. Return skillet to medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add breadcrumbs; cook 3 minutes or until toasted. Arrange tomatoes evenly over vegetable mixture. Top evenly with breadcrumbs. Bake at 375° for 40 minutes or until topping is browned. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup basil.