Friday, December 30, 2011

Cider Glazed Pork Chops

Pork chops make for a quick weeknight dinner and with this cider glaze, it'll be a dinner your kids will ask for again and again.  My six year-old, a confirmed non-meat eater, loves it when I serve him pork with this glaze.  I rest my case.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sacre Torte Cookies

My friend, Kristen Klaus, gave me this recipe years ago.  It was the holiday season and I remember making these cookies with her in her apartment in Menlo Park.  I don't know if she still makes them, but I do--almost every Christmas!  They're that kind of cookie.  And the chocolate and raspberry flavors are very festive.  The preparation is simple enough that now my children can make them on their own.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cranberry Clafouti

Clafouti is a custardy French fruit dessert.  And it's simple to make.

Traditionally made with plums, this one is a nice variation for autumn.  Sprinkle it liberally with confectioner's sugar (to counteract the tartness of the berries) and serve it with sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Wild Mushrooms

I found this recipe in the newspaper and have now made it several times.  If you are ambivalent about Brussels sprouts, this might change your mind. Roasting them at a high temperature breaks down the bitter compounds and brings out the sprouts' mellower side.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Shingled Potatoes

I found this recipe in the latest edition of Martha Stewart Living.  I thought they looked interesting and decided to give them a whirl at my next dinner party.  They were good!  Not only are these potatoes pretty on the plate, but they are a nice alternative to the plain old baked spud.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Peach and Blackberry Crumble

Diana Henry claims that this is the quintessential British, never-fails-to-please dessert.  I did not know that the British had this up their culinary sleeve.  When it comes to cooking, I trust the Irish over the British.  Still, when it comes to crumble, how badly can one stray?

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Spanakopita Revisited

Spanakopita is Greek spinach and feta pie.  It's one of those things that sounds very promising, but often turns out less so.  I have made spanakopita that was soggy, that had too little filling, that was tasteless.  This new recipe from Cook's Illustrated fixes all of those flaws.  It also makes a large quantity, so make sure you have plenty of spanakopita lovers to feed!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Shepherd's Pie

This is good simple comfort food, perfect for when those white flakes start to fall from the sky and the wind bites.  I've simplified the process further by using frozen mashed potatoes, so now it is a reasonable weeknight dish.  You could make it even quicker by cutting up the vegetables ahead of time.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Maine Apple Cake

This is one of my favorite ways to use apples.  It makes a moist apple-y cake with a nice cinnamon flavor.  I found this recipe on a website about Maine a few years ago and have been making it ever since.  It is fairly quick and easy (for a cake) and does not even require a mixer.

Though the original recipe calls for peeled apples, I often only peel two, and leave the rest unpeeled for higher fiber and nutritional content (and quicker preparation).

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Swedish Apple Pie

Who doesn't like apple pie?  And a Swedish apple pie sounded intriguing.  This is a good recipe for a weeknight apple pie.  It's quick because it doesn't require a conventional crust.

I used an apple-wedge cutter (one of those simple devices you press down on an apple that cores it and cuts it into wedges at the same time) to cut my apples into wedges, then cut each of those wedges into two slices.  I didn't even bother to peel my apples, figuring a little apple skin was just another good source of fiber.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Roasted Beet Salad

My husband loves beets, so he brings them home from the farmer's market.  This salad is a good way to use them (thank you, Diana Henry!)  It makes a lovely early autumn supper with some crusty bread.

The roasting method is time-consuming but easy to do.  When I don't have the time to roast beets, I use a package of steamed and peeled baby beets from Trader Joes.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting

If you are looking for a frosting that has a good chocolate taste and is thick and creamy without being overly sweet, this is a good bet.  The only slight drawback is that it is so thick it can be hard to spread.  To solve that problem, warm the frosting slightly in the microwave.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Coconut Curry Chicken Casserole

Thai coconut curries are easy to like--not too spicy, and with the mild sweetness of coconut milk.  This is a recipe from Everyday Food, a Martha Stewart publication, so it has been adapted for the American market.  If you wished to be more Asian with this dish, you could use different vegetables such as a can of baby corn or straw mushrooms or water chestnuts.

You can also substitute tofu or fish for the chicken, if you like.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Pie with a Wheat Crust

I've tried a variety of pumpkin pie recipes and the one I always return to is the one on the back of the can of Libby's pumpkin.  The only modification I make is that I use less of the evaporated milk.  Otherwise, I think it's pretty perfect as it is.

A homemade crust is nice, and this one is simple and quick.  No chilling, no cutting butter into tiny bits and freezing it, in fact--no butter at all!  The recipe makes enough for a one-crust pie.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Linguine with Parmesan-Clam Sauce

My son, Weston, is looking for simple recipes to make for weeknight dinners. He found one that required four pounds of littleneck clams.  Not easy to find in Minnesota!

I pulled this recipe out from the depths of my recipe binder.  I hadn't made it in a while, but I remembered that it relied on canned clams (cheaper! easier to keep on hand!) and made a copy for him.  Easy enough for an eleven-year old to make for a family dinner, and tasty too!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dominican Beans

This is another Dominican recipe from Amy.  You will notice that there are shared ingredients between the recipe for Dominican chicken and this one.  That's because these dishes are cooked at the same time to be eaten together.

Dominican Chicken

Our friend, Amy Edelstein, has been working in the Dominican Republic for four years.  She made  Dominican Chicken for us on her recent visit and I quickly jotted down the recipe.

This chicken is extremely flavorful, thanks to the Dominican staples of tomato paste, garlic and chicken bouillon. It is also very tender because of the long cooking time during which the chicken pieces braise.  This dish is traditionally served with Dominican Beans and white rice.

Weeknight Lasagna

We used to have a love-hate relationship with lasagna.  My family loved to eat it and I hated to make it.  There were too many steps, and it was too time-consuming for a simple weeknight dinner.

I am happy to say that with the advent of the no-boil lasagna noodle, the prospects for weeknight lasagna have brightened considerably.  And with this recipe, putting one together is a snap.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Chicken Parmesan Burgers

Are you ready for a juicy tasty burger?  A departure from the same old, same old?  Something a bit healthier than the old hamburger?  Give these a try.  I promise, you'll be a convert.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Peach Preserves

Many years ago my friend, Arturo, gave me his grandfather's recipe for peach preserves. It was very simple: take a pound of peaches and a pound of sugar, bring them to boil very very slowly, let cool, bring to a slow boil again and then put in jars.  As you can see, there was some level of detail that was left out.

This was the first time I tried this recipe (with my own embellishments) and I think it turned out rather well.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tomato Sandwiches

At this time of year in Minnesota bumper crops of heirloom tomatoes are available at prices that can't be beat.  To celebrate the bounty, I like to make these tomato sandwiches.  They are very simple, so be sure to use the best ingredients you can find.

These sandwiches makes a nice light dinner, or a lunch served with some slices of melon or a green salad.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Crepes with Prosciutto, Fig and Gorgonzola

I've had a half-eaten jar of fig preserves in my fridge for a long time.  This was an excellent way to use it up.  Crepes make for a nice light summer dinner, served with a salad.  If prosciutto is too spendy, you can use another kind of good quality ham.

One crepe per person may seem like a small serving, but trust me--these are filling!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Better Crepes

Crepes are a wonderful French invention, but most have too much white flour for my taste.  I sought to improve this recipe by increasing the whole grain content and experimenting with non-dairy milks.  Surprise!  I found that a combination of cow's milk, soymilk and rice milk did the job.

The original recipe calls for rum, but I use vodka when I don't need the extra flavor.  The addition of alcohol is a little trick to improve the texture of the batter, but the recipe would also work without it.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Easy Raspberry Jam

In August we like to pick raspberries at Pincushion Mountain near Grand Marais.  With a few cups of wild raspberries, you can make this raspberry jam with a super intense flavor.  I guarantee that you'll never see a recipe for jam that is simpler than this!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Prosciutto-Wrapped Salmon with Rosemary Butter

The Star Tribune's editor Lee Svitak Dean offered this recipe in last week's Taste section.  Having tried it, I have to say I was impressed.  It's a simple recipe that produces a moist and flavorful piece of fish.  (I don't know about you, but in my hands, salmon tends to get dry.)  However, if I could make one small improvement, Lee, I would add a smear of mango chutney under that prosciutto wrap for a tangy note.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Turkey Empanadas

I like meat pies, especially Cornish pasties (which are not so tempting to make when you realize that they are made with lard), so when I saw a recipe for Beef Empanadas in Cooks Illustrated I thought I'd give it a try.  These are probably very tasty when made with beef, but being in beef-avoidance mode, I made them with turkey.  By the way, this is not a quick recipe. It helps to spread the preparations out over two days.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Chickpea Salad

Molly Wizenberg first wrote about chickpea salad on her blog, Orangette.  I tried it, but it didn't make the grade.  I was disappointed, because a simple chickpea salad sounded very appealing and an easy way to eat more beans.

Molly updated her recipe for the April 2011 issue of Bon Appetit.  I tried it again and decided it was very fine.  Here's a tip: since the salad tastes best chilled, keep a can of garbanzo beans in your fridge for when the urge to make this salad strikes.  By the way, I think cilantro might be the preferred herb to use in this salad.  I plan to try it instead of the basil next time.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Madeleine's Fish Tacos

We first had fish tacos in Hawaii.  They were marvelous.  Occasionally we will have them now at Tin Fish near Lake Calhoun.  But last night, I decided that we needed a home version.

Summer is a great time for fish tacos with a little tartar sauce, some greens and a squirt of lime juice.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Lamb Chops with Yogurt Mint Sauce

Ina Garten describes this dish as "delicious and summery." Which is true. 

She also recommends it as a great dish for entertaining because you marinate the lamb and make the sauce the night before.  This is also true.  

While her recipe calls for cooking on the grill, I have included oven-based roasting directions here.  This is because I am a very poor griller.  The worst.  Invariably, when I have to run in and out of the house to monitor what is cooking on the stove as well as what is on the grill both end up burned.  I wish this was not so.  But there it is.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Maple Oatmeal Scones

These scones are a real treat and not hard to make.  I like them because they are made with whole-wheat flour and oats, which boosts the fiber content.  When I don't have buttermilk on hand, I mix together some regular milk and yogurt to approximate the same consistency.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Diana's Rum Cake

My friend, Diana, gave me a rum cake for my birthday.

Now, I've known Diana since fifth grade.  We went through junior high and high school together in NYC.  When we teenagers, we used to get together and bake.  Our specialties were brownies and cheesecake.  

When we went away to college in Massachusetts, she visited me.  When I moved to Palo Alto, California, I stayed with her until I found my own place.  Somehow we both managed to marry guys from Minnesota.  And now we both live in Minneapolis.  Wow! What a journey, huh?

But, enough about Diana and I.  Back to the cake.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Rhubarb Strawberry Crisp

It's rhubarb harvest time and that means we need recipes that use serious quantities of it.  This recipe looked promising - it uses 4 cups of chopped rhubarb.  That was music to my husband's ears (he loves rhubarb--it's a Minnesota thing) but not mine.  I decided to substitute strawberries for 1 cup of rhubarb.  My husband was skeptical. (It makes him nervous when I start changing recipes.)

Well, ha!  Because this crisp turned out to be really good.  And with a few strawberries, the whole family could enjoy it.  If your rhubarb addict is a purist, you may want to go with the original recipe which is 100% rhubarb.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Apricot Almond Tart

I found some beautiful apricots at the market yesterday and wanted to make something nice with them.  Hello!  Within a few minutes I had printed off two recipes for apricot almond tarts.  This was the simpler, less caloric recipe, so I decided to try it first.  In my mind, the simpler the recipe, the more times I will make it.  Why make life complicated?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Best Banana Bread

Whenever I have some overripe bananas, I do one of two things: cook them in brown sugar and butter (as my mother did) or make banana bread.  I have tried lots and lots of banana bread recipes, but this is the best in my book.  Thank you, Martha!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Chilled Cucumber Soup

If you want to beat the heat this summer, try this smooth cool cucumber soup.  It makes a great starter.

My husband's aunt, Maria, serves this soup to us often when we visit her in Denver.  I have asked her about the  ingredients several times, but hadn't been able to duplicate her recipe.  So, using this great new search engine for specifically for recipes, I searched the Net for something similar.  Nothing quite fit the bill, but by combining the two closest recipes I made a good approximation of Maria's soup.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Skillet Chicken Aglio e Olio

I've been making this recipe for years and it has been very reliable.  Chicken breasts can be dry if they are not cooked well, and this treatment keeps them moist and tasty.

Incidentally, "aglio" means garlic and "olio" means oil, so the title can be translated to "Skillet Chicken with Garlic and Oil." Why didn't the good folks at Cooking Light give us a title in English?  Probably because it doesn't sound as tempting.  "Aglio e Olio" sounds like you might be heading to the Mediterranean for dinner.  And, really, who wouldn't like that?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fennel and Parmesan Salad

A salad is the perfect side dish for a summer meal, but I find myself doing the same ones over and over again.  I was recently introduced to fennel bulbs by my friend, Katie, who served one, cut into little cubes, as an appetizer. Fennel bulbs are surprisingly refreshing and crunchy with a hint of anise flavor.

This salad is a welcome change from the same old, same old summer salad scene.  It's a variation on coleslaw, but with more sophisticated flavors.  An inexpensive mandoline really helps with the slicing work.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Rhubarb Cake with Lemon Butter Sauce

My husband likes rhubarb.  It's a Minnesota thing.  So, I clip a lot of recipes for rhubarb, but only make a few.  This is a quick and easy cake that's good even without the sauce. (Which is good, because most of the calories reside in the sauce, I believe!)  As an alternative to sauce, try serving slices with vanilla ice cream.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Rigatoni with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce

Tired of pasta with tomato sauce?  Try this tasty variation with true tomato and basil flavors.  I was intrigued by the idea of making sauce with sun-dried tomatoes. (It really works!)

This makes a quick weeknight dinner with a salad and a loaf of crusty bread.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

White Ruffy Meunière

Sole Meunière is a classic dish, I know.  But it has never worked for me.  Those paper thin fillets always break up in the frying pan.  One day, I had frozen white ruffy from Trader Joe's in my freezer and I wondered...could I make White Ruffy Meunière?  I am happy to report that the answer is yes, yes, yes!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I am usually wary of recipes on packages, but I decided to give this one a chance since it was a Grand Prize winner in a Bob's Red Mill Natural Foods baking contest.  It did not disappoint.

This recipe makes a small cake, perfect for a family meal.  It is 'uncommonly moist and flavorful' as described on the back of a bag of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat pastry flour.  It is not overly sweet, however, and although I do not usually frost carrot cake, I did in this instance.  Happily, the cream cheese frosting is quick to make and lower calorie than most recipes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Mom's Cough and Cold Remedies

My son complained of a sore throat two weeks ago.  I made him a sore throat remedy that my mother used to make for me. He is still requesting it daily, with no sign of a sore throat.  It really is yummy, and very soothing for a sore throat.

Quinoa and Black Beans

Last week we went to a swim team potluck and I signed up to bring a dish to share.  I decided to put my name down under the category of "Vegan Main Dish" because it was absolutely wide open. (Guess why?) Just in case you ever find yourself in the same spot, this recipe will bail you out.  It doubles easily to serve 12.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Campanelle with Zucchini, Ham and Green Onion

Here is another excellent light pasta dish from Martha Stewart Living.  I made it the other night for my daughter and several of her friends, all seventh-grade girls.  They had to eat on the run while I drove them to a school play, so I packed up dinner-sized portions of the pasta in plastic tupperware containers. Later that night, when I brought in the containers from the car I noticed that there was not one lettuce leaf or piece of pasta left.  They'd practically licked the tupperware clean.

Vegan Oatmeal Cinnamon Scones

On Mother's Day, my husband made a trip to French Meadow Bakery for scones because he knows that they are my favorite.  He brought home a selection including a vegan scone, which turned out to be the best of all!  It was much drier and crisper than a traditional scone, but it had a pleasing oatiness to it.  It reminded me of an oversized version of an irish oatcake.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Lasagna, Deconstructed

The folks at Martha Stewart Living have too much time on their hands.  I know this because I just wandered onto their site to see if I could find a copy of the recipe I had tried from the latest issue of the magazine.  But I could not.  Why?  Because while the magazine offered about half a dozen pasta recipes, the website has recipes for 101!  101 Easy Pasta Dinners!  How many chefs do they have in their test kitchen?  And how many pounds of pasta do they have in their pantry?


We had horchata for the first time on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico.  Horchata is a refreshing cinnamon-rice drink, a perfect accompaniment for Mexican meals, but we had not been able to come up with a simple way to replicate it at home.  Most recipes call for grinding rice with water and letting it sit for several hours.  That's too much work for a beverage.  (I'm sure you would agree.)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beans and Greens Tacos with Goat Cheese

Martha Stewart Living offered up this fresh and flavorful recipe in the current issue.  I made it for dinner last night.  Of course, I had to make some changes.

I used yellow corn tortillas instead of white (couldn't find them), organic spring green salad mix instead of chard, garbanzo beans instead of cannellini.  This makes a great spring or summer weeknight dinner served with corn on the cob and horchata, a Mexican rice drink.

Poached Salmon with Lime-Ginger Sauce

I bought a very expensive piece of salmon and could not bear to cook it in a way that would render it dry and flaky.  This piece of fish was toooo good for that.

I happened upon this recipe for an easy poaching method with a nice light sauce.  Although I had to make some substitutions (thyme instead of basil, ground ginger instead of fresh), it turned out well.  Moist and flavorful!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pesto Walnut Risotto

Last Saturday I was looking for a risotto recipe that used only what I had on hand.  Lucky me, because I happened to have everything for this fragrant spring-y dish, which we enjoyed with lamb and a mixed-green salad.