Wish Upon A Dish: October 2010

October 31, 2010

Big Yard Day Today and a Manicotti Dinner to Die For

I think the buys of the day yesterday went to The Nudge.

Just those two items will make MY life easier, making his life easier.

Every year we wait for the majority of the leaves to fall from a yard lined with huge old oak trees. He does the raking on the perimeter, while I use the Toro blower (yes, I am better at it because I get every leaf...lol).

I blow all the leaves to the edge of our retaining wall in front of our driveway.

The Nudge fills the leaf bags. In about 4 hours we are as clean as a whistle.

A good day to be outside...no wind (I am not reblowing the ones that blow back in again) sun, for warmth and a day around 50-55 degrees.

BINGO....that's today. I am making Eggs Benedict to fortify us for the tasks and....

.....homemade manicotti with meatballs and sausage for dinner to warm and fill our hungry tummies (recipes to follow).


I have been making manicottis this way as long as I can remember. It was long ago decided that my sauce and baked pastas where better then anyone else's in the family, so it was my duty to make the pasta course at Easter, Thanksgiving and, of course, Christmas.

I do not remember who taught me to make it with the crepes instead of the pre-formed dry manicotti shells that Ronzoni makes, but they are by far better than with those.

Until a year ago, when I saw someone make these on a TV food challenge, I thought I was the only one. After some research on the Internet, I discovered not only do the Italians make these all the time, they stuff and fold them all different ways.

Makes 12 - the mixture should have the consistency of a thin pancake mix
* 3 eggs
* 1/2 cup milk
* 3 Tbs. butter, melted
* 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
Drop everything into a blender and blend until smooth.
Let rest for at least 30 minutes and add more liquid as the flour soaks up the milk.

You will need a 9" nonstick frying pan.

Cheese Filling
(you can add spinach if you wish)
* 2 cups homemade ricotta or a good quality store bought brand, drained for 30 minutes (fat free, skim or whole milk, your choice)
* 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella (not the plastic wrapped bricks used for pizzas)
* salt & pepper
* grated Locatelli cheese to taste
* 1 egg, beaten
* 1/8 tsp grated fresh nutmeg

You will need:
* A 9x13 baking pan (Pyrex makes the perfect size)
* 1/4 cup measuring scoop.
* Homemade gravy or a really good jarred sauce (remember, what you put into a dish, you will get back, use the best ingredients. This is not a place to skimp.)

Ladle sauce to coat the bottom of your baking pan and roll 1/4 cup filling into each crepe
Place seam side down in a baking pan.

Spoon more sauce on top.
Cover with foil and bake 30 minutes at 400F. Uncover and serve.

* Extra grated mozzarella if you want. I do not use any on the top, just the sauce.
* Meatballs and sausage that has been simmered in the sauce at least 45 minutes.
* Serve with extra sauce and grated cheese, a good Chianti and a loaf of Italian bread.

A Little History of Halloween Anyone?

How did trick-or-treating begin?
The modern practice of trick-or-treating appears to have originated from a combination of the Celtic new year celebration called Samhain celebrated on October 31st and the early Christian ritual related to All Saints Day, celebrated on November 2nd.

The Celts believed that on Samhain, spirits of the dead would come back and try to posses the bodies of the living. So to avoid being possessed by a ghost, living Celts would dress up in scary costumes and parade around the town making a lot of noise, so as to scare the spirits away. This is where the modern tradition of wearing costumes seems to have derived from.

As for the collection of treats, most scholars credit early Christians’ ritual of “souling” to the development of this festive activity. In connection with their All Saints Day celebration, Christians would walk door to door collecting square pieces of currant bread called “soul cakes”. The person who collected the cakes would say prayers on behalf of a deceased relative. The more cakes collected, the more prayers were said and the quicker the soul of the deceased would find heaven.

The combination of these two early activities has evolved into the modern practice of trick-or-treating.

How did “bobbing for apples” become a popular Halloween activity?
The apple has historically been associated with immortality and fertility because when cut down its center it has a five point star. This five pointed star was a common goddess symbol in many ancient religions and believed to help determine marriages, especially during the magical, spiritual season of Samhain. During early celebrations, apples would be hung either from a string or placed in a tub of water and young, unmarried people would try to take a bite. The first one to successfully bite the apple was believed to be the next one married.

Why are bats associated with Halloween?
In early Halloween celebrations, people often gathered around giant bonfires to ward off evil spirits. Night-flying insects were attracted to the flames, which made bonfires the perfect feeding ground for bats. Thus, bats became quickly synonymous with Halloween celebrations. Additionally, during the Middle Ages, people began to link bats to witches because the both seemed to mystically fly throughout the dark night and disappear during the day.

Have people always carved pumpkins for Halloween?
Jack-o-lanterns are an Irish tradition brought to by early Irish immigrants. But early jack-o-lanterns were not pumpkins, they were turnips, rutabagas or gourds that were hollowed out. Lights were placed in them to ward off evil spirits and to keep “Stingy Jack” (the legendary Irish drunkard and prankster, believed to have made a deal with the devil and condemned to walk the earth upon death, whose namesake has been given to modern day, carved pumpkins) away. It was not until the 1800’s when Irish immigrants came to and found pumpkins to be so plentiful and easier to carve, that the tradition was altered.

October 30, 2010

Rigatoni with Portobellas, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese

This sounded good the first time I saw it, and it sounds even better due to the fact that I am really hungry tonight.

Finally, Autumn hit us. Friday was cold, windy and dark. The kind of weather that Halloween loves. Today, although cool, was sunny and less windy. The kind of weather that I love.

Two reasons to eat a hot, steamy, creamy, rich but healthy bowl of pasta.

You think rich and healthy should not be in the same sentence. Make this dish and you will.

I French cut a Spanish onion and am caramelizing it in 1 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons EVOO.
I cut 2 large portobellas in half and crosswise into 1/2" strips.
In about 20 minutes I will remove the onions, and in the same pan, add the last tablespoon of EVOO and add the mushrooms.
Cook them until tender and brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the reserved onions, parsley, salt & pepper.

Boil a gallon of water with 1 tablespoon sea salt and cook pasta al dente. Reserve 3/4 cup pasta water and drain.

Toss the rigatoni and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon EVOO, the goat cheese and the Parmesan. If the pasta is dry add more water.....serve with a bowl of grated Parmesan and a good loaf of Italian bread.

Rigatoni with Portobellos, Caramelized Onions and Goat Cheese
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 4 tablespoons olive oil
* 3 onions, chopped
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon sugar
* 1 pound portobella mushrooms, stems removed, caps halved and then cut crosswise into 1/2" slices
* 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
* 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
* 3/4 pound ziti
* 3 ounces soft goat cheese, such as Montrachet, crumbled
* 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. In a large frying pan, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with 2 tablespoons of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are well browned, about 20 minutes. Remove from the pan.
2. In the same pan, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon butter with 1 tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the mushrooms and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and brown, about 8 minutes. Add the reserved onions, the parsley, the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the pepper.
3. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done, about 13 minutes. Reserve 3/4 cup of the pasta water and drain. Toss the ziti and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water with the mushroom mixture, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the goat cheese, and the Parmesan. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved pasta water. Serve with additional Parmesan.

This was soooooooo good, I almost ate the whole thing....well, I could have.
A definite KEEPER.....yes.

October 28, 2010

Garlic Chicken with a Crunchy-Crisp Crust

I am always trying to find a crisp-coated chicken breast that is crunchy outside and juicy inside. You can boost the flavor and texture of boneless chicken breasts without adding calories or extra fat with savory marinades, crisp coatings, and high-heat roasting.

The beauty of this dish is the potato chips added to panko that have been crushed with a mallet or rolling pin. Try not to use the processor, you want texture. The potato chips add, not only flavor, but saltiness and if you buy the baked ones the fat even goes way down.

Garlic Chicken with a Potato Chip-Basil Crust
Adapted from Fine Cooking
Serves 6

For the marinade and chicken:
* 3 Tbs. olive oil
* 2 Tbs. minced garlic
* 1/2 tsp. cayenne
* 3 Tbs. Dijon-style mustard
* 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
* 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 oz. each)

For the coating:
* One 6-oz. bag baked potato chips, crushed
* 1 cup Panko crumbs
* 1/2 cup roughly chopped basil
* 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
* 2 Tbs. melted butter spread (like Smart Balance)

For the marinade: In a nonreactive bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, cayenne, mustard, and basil. Rinse the chicken breasts, pat them dry, and add them to the marinade; turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 to 4 hours.

For the coating: In a large, shallow dish, mix the chips, crackers, basil, and pepper. Drizzle the melted butter over the crumb mixture and toss until well combined.

To coat and cook the chicken:

Heat the oven to 450°F and butter a baking sheet or rack.
Take a breast from the marinade with one hand--this is now your "wet" hand. Don't wipe off the marinade. Lay the chicken on the crumbs. Scoop and pat the crumbs over the breast using your other hand (your "dry" hand), patting until both sides are thoroughly coated. Put the breast on a buttered baking sheet or rack and repeat with the remaining breasts. Roast the chicken until it's crisp, browned, and cooked through, 25 to 30 min. Check after 15 min. If the chicken is getting too brown, reduce the heat to 400° and add 5 min. to the total cooking time.

I wanted to show you this spider and web that appeared at the end of the summer. I looked it up on the internet and it is a standard Orb garden spider, that builds their web in a garden. I have watched it for 2 months now and finally the weather destroyed the web and the spider never came back. They only live 12 months and do not winter over in a freezing area, which that is the zone I am in.

I was telling everyone I have live Halloween decorations with 2 black cats and a spider....lol

October 26, 2010

Polynesian Pork

I usually always look for the tenderloins to go on sale. By that I mean $2.99 a pound vs. $3.99 a pound.

When they are I buy 2 packages of 2 (4 loins).

They are the perfect size for cooking for 2. I usually get 3 servings out of 1 small tenderloin.

They are lean and juicy and excellent for any diet.

Tonight, with sweet potato season in full swing, I decided to make an Asian style stir-fry. One pot, right to the table. I like that a lot.

My husband's Mom passed away this morning and I am not sure what is happening for dinner so I would need a fast meal if we are staying home.

Pork and Sweet Potatoes
makes 4 servings

* 1 tbls cornstarch
* 2 tbls brown sugar
* 3 tbls tamari
* 2 tbls sherry
* 3/4 c pineapple juice
* 1/2 tsp ground ginger
* 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
* 3 tbls canola oiol
* 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into a 1/2 by 3" julienne
* 1 medium onion, peeled and cut into 1/4" julienne
* 1 large sweet potato (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 3/8 by 3" julienne
* 1 large sweet red pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 3/8 by 3" julienne
* 1/2 pound snow peas, trimmed
* 4 scallions, trimmed and sliced into 1/4" diagonals
1. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and brown sugar together. Then add tamari, sherry, pineapple juice, ginger and garlic. Mix well. Set aside.
2. In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium high heat. Saute pork, browning on all sides. When browned, remove with slotted spoon and set aside.
3. In same pan and oil, saute onion until softened, add sweet potatoes and peppers. Continue to saute an additional 3-4 minutes until softened. Add additional oil if necessary.
4. Add pork and snow peas to pan. Stir cornstarch mixture to blend and pour over pork and vegetable mixture. Cook over heat until sauce thickens. Add scallions and toss to continue.

Serve with some brown rice, bulgur or quinoa and this would also be good over creamy polenta.

October 24, 2010


No, it's not that KFC.

I swore off that place 3 years ago when we threw the whole bucket out.

Korean Fried Chicken.

Ellie, who used to own the blog called "Almost Bourdain", posted this recipe a couple of weeks ago and it caught my eye. She originally calls for drumsticks and wings but I am making it with all wings. I also listed the amounts in American measurements, hers are in metric.

The Nudge loves wings and I am always looking for new ways to prepare them. When I ask him "do you want them spicy, sweet, crunchy or sticky?" His way of getting out of making a decision is to tell me "surprise me".

How I hate that.

This time I did not ask him and all of a sudden its "I didn't approve those".

Spousal abuse in my mind..........

Korean Fried Chicken (KFC Recipe)

Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
2 1/2 pounds chicken wings
Thinly sliced spring onion, to serve

* 1 cup spelt flour (or oat, quinoa, buckwheat) sieved
* 2 tbsp cornflour
* 1 egg white, lightly beaten
* Water

Chili sauce:
* 2 tbsp each soy sauce and rice vinegar
* 1 tbsp honey or agave nectar
* 2 tsp sesame oil
* 2 tsp sugar or Splenda
* 1" piece ginger, finely grated
* 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
* 1/4 cup Thai Style Chili Sauce or Sambal Oelek (if you like it really hot)


1. For chili sauce, combine ingredients in a large bowl, season to taste with freshly ground pepper and set aside.
2. For batter, whisk flours, egg white and 170 ml cold water in bowl. Season to taste and set aside.

The first fry....these suckers are huge. They have to be roaster wings at 5-6 per pound.

3. Preheat oil in a deep-sided saucepan to 180C. Dip chicken pieces in batter and deep-fry in batches, turning occasionally until light golden (5-6 minutes). Drain on absorbent paper until cooled slightly (10-15 minutes).

4. Deep-fry chicken again, in batches, until crisp and deep golden (6-8 minutes), drain on absorbent paper, then add to sauce, toss to coat and serve hot topped with spring onion.

I think that based on the size of these wings, I would allow 3-4 pieces per serving.
Serve with frites, macaroni salad or fried rice. This is a treat for me indeed. I will only eat the wings but I am having grapefruit for dessert.

They were good but really not worth the trouble of double frying them. One fry on a wing is enough. If I was making bigger pieces, say like a whole fried chicken, I would double fry. Make a huge batch of these for your next tailgating or football game day with friends and family. They will gobble them up!!

While I am frying the chicken I am also frying 1 large potato, thinly julienned.
The Nudge loves these thin fries or frites.

October 22, 2010

Chicken Paprikash & Apple Tartlettes

Chicken Paprikash is probably on the same level as Chicken Cacciatore or Chicken Parmesan and for that matter, any other slow braised meat dish....each one is personal, depending on how Grandma or Mom cooked it. Every family has their own rendition.

I love that in a recipe.

Sometimes it is the difference between canned whole tomatoes or tomato puree, smoked paprika or sweet paprika or both, and braised in the oven or on top of the stove. Doesn't matter as long as it tastes good. I have never made a Paprikash of any kind. Research tells me it is usually made with veal stew meat or chicken, but sometimes you can use fish.

Interesting. All white meat.

Now, a little history:
Columbus brought it back to Europe from his epic voyage to the New World.
It grew well in the sunny climate of the Iberian Peninsula and was soon to be found in every stew pot in the land. Nowhere was it received with more delight than in Hungary where the Turks planted the seed along the Danube.

The key is to use very good paprika. A foodie friend was generous enough to send me a foil package of the most wonderful sweet paprika I could ever wish for. Just opening the package surrounded me with a scent the way basil does when you stroke it's leaves. It envelopes you and follows you for quite some time. The package information was in Hungarian Magyar (I am assuming since that is the official language of Hungary) so you know it is authentic.

I only hope I can do the dish proud.

I am also going to make Spaetzle, I believe Lidia has a recipe for whole wheat spaetzle I will try. I know flat noodles are traditional but I love spaetzle.

My Mothers family was Swedish and German and Grandma cooked German foods all the time. Her best was Sauerbraten and potato dumplings for which I wish I had gotten her recipe. I will ask my Uncle if he inherited her recipe box.

I love spaetzle so much I bought a special spaetzle maker.

I found 2 recipes that are so different I went to my Old World Kitchen cookbook to see which is the closest to traditional.

Chicken Paprikash (Paprikas Csirke)
* 3.5-4.5 pounds chicken leg quarters (you definitely want something on the bone)
* 2 Tbsp butter spread
* 3 cups very thinly sliced onions (pref white)
* 5 strips each red & green peppers
* 1/4 cup sweet Hungarian paprika (see note above)
* 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour
* 1.5 cups water
* 1 Tbsp minced garlic
* 1 large bay leaf
* 1-1.5 cup creme fraiche (use lite sour cream if creme fraiche is not avail)
* salt & pepper

Basic directions:
Brown seasoned chicken pieces on all sides, remove to platter.
Saute onion, garlic until softened. Add flour.
Add water to make a roux (you do not need broth because the chicken and water will make a broth)
Bay leaf and paprika go in next along with the chicken.
Bake in the oven for 90 minutes or simmer on the stove for same.
Remove chicken to warmed serving platter and off heat, add sour cream or creme fraiche (do not add yogurt it will separate).

Simple and basic with good ingredients you do not need anything else.

* 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
* 2 eggs
* 1/4 cup milk

In a large bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, flour, and nutmeg. In another bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Mix the wet into the dry and let it rest for at least 30 minutes. It will be about the consistency of a boxed cake dough.

If you do not have a spaetzle maker you can use a large holed strainer and I am trying a theory of mine.
I save all my squeeze bottles, from syrup to ketchup and I store dessert sauces in them and pancake mix in another and flavored oils in a few. The bottle that has the pancake mix in it has the largest hole in the top. I think I can squeeze the mixture at a constant drip that when it falls into the simmering water it will form very nice long spaetzle instead of drops that sometimes get made. I will take a pic of both so you can decide. If you haven't ever made spaetzle you have too. Kids love them. Just heat them in some browned butter and you have a winner. Add them to soups, they can be frozen in 1 cup servings. Probably the easiest (besides drop dumplings) of fresh noodles you could make.

Remember, fresh noodles are the best pasta a Diabetic can consume. Eat them with no guilt.

For a veggie, I would saute carrots or brussels sprouts. I am making caramelized brussel sprouts.

With the 2nd refrigerated pie crust I cut out 4 circles to fit my tartlette pans and filled them with sliced Crispin apples. Sprinkled Splenda and cinnamon on top, then 3 dabs of butter on each. Baked at 350F for 30 minutes. Dollop Cool Whip Free and that is what we are having for dessert tonight.

This recipe was the easiest and quickest way to make a perfect bite after all the comfort food we had for dinner.

October 21, 2010

This morning I woke up thinking about food....

I hate when I do that. I find myself thinking about something as I am falling asleep and then when I wake up I am still thinking about it.

Last night we took our friend out to dinner before he returns to Iowa.

They wanted to watch the baseball playoffs while catching up up gossip (yes, men are ultimately worse then women).

I was the designated driver.

Someone from the local newspaper was doing a feature on local pubs and their regulars. She wandered over and took our pic, which was nice because we wanted one of the 3 of us anyways. As I was admiring her camera, the conversation sort of went that way and I mentioned I would love that camera for my pics on my blog. My little, old, point and shoot just wasn't cutting it anymore.

She asked me about my blog, I told her and she took my email, saying maybe the editor will contact me about my blog and do a write up of it.

Wouldn't that be nice. I know there are a lot of people out there that do not know I even exist and there are as many diabetic food blogs as I have fingers on both hands.

What I was thinking about was a page devoted to "When in Doubt Eat These Dishes" for when you have not planned your meal for the day and do not want to get take-out.

So, today, I made a special page devoted to 10 of my top ingredients used to make recipes for Diabetic Friendly foods using pantry and basic refrigerated and frozen items (like eggs, cream, milk, chicken and fish).

Along with my tart, I am making whole wheat cloverleaf rolls and a salad using the last of my yellow tomatoes, bleu cheese crumbles and a new Litehouse dressing I want to try.

* 1 1/4 cup warm water
* 1 tbls rapid rise yeast
* 1 tsp salt
* 1/4 cup agave nectar
* 2 tbls dry milk
* 2 cups whole wheat flour
* 3/4 cup AP flour
* 1 tbls butter, melted

Mix all ingredients with a dough hook for 8 minutes. Let rise until doubled, punch down and make 18 1 1/2" balls. Place 3 in each Texas Muffin tin to make cloverleaf rolls. Any leftover dough I make sub rolls with.
Brush tops with an egg wash before baking and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake at 375F for 25 minutes.

They were so good, even The Nudge was surprised they were whole wheat.

I like that you can pull them apart easily without having to cut them with a knife.

October 20, 2010

Artichoke, Bacon and Fontina Cheese Tart

I do not remember which magazine I originally copied this from but it was either Family Circle or Woman's Day. Either way, the bacon part grabbed my attention and I scanned it for future use.

Tonight is the future, right??

I love when it comes right out of the oven, all puffy and melty.
Then as it cools, it settles and gets glossy from the melted cheese....Yum

The Nudge loves quiche and egg dishes of any kind. He is going to love this one. Super easy, it used a premade crust but you could make your own if you want, but the thinness of this crust was perfect for the filling.
I used the 9" tart pan with the removable bottom and pressed the crust into it. I trimmed it leaving 1" of extra dough which I rolled down around the edge to give it a better structure (it also shrinks less).
You could use any pan you want. It originally called for a 10" deep dish pie plate. I will give you the original recipe, then tell you what I did.

Artichoke, Bacon and Fontina Pie
Makes 8 servings
Preheat oven to 400F.
* 1 refrigerated pie crust
* 1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina Cheese, divided (I used Gouda)
* 4 strips cooked crumbled bacon
* 1/3 cup 1" julienned red bell pepper strips
* 2 tbls snipped fresh chives
* 8 artichoke hearts, drained and cut in half, lengthwise
* 2 cups heavy cream (I used 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 cup milk)
* 4 large eggs (I used a half container of Egg Beaters)
* 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
* salt & pepper

1. Unroll crust into 10-inch deep dish pie plate; crimp edge.
Chill 20 minutes. Line pie crust with foil and fill with pie weights or baking beans.
Bake 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack, remove foil.
2. Reduce oven to 375F. Sprinkle 1 cup cheese over bottom of crust.
Scatter bacon, pepper strips and chives over cheese. Arrange artichoke hearts in a circular manner.
3. Mix cream, eggs, red pepper flakes, 1/4 tsp salt & pepper until blended. Pour over artichokes.
4. Sprinkle with last 1/2 cup of cheese and bake for 50 minutes or until a knife inserted come out clean.

Canned Apples in a Jar

I still have over a dozen apples that need to be cooked somehow.
Yesterday I made Apple Pie in a Jar.
That is apples in a syrup which you use for a pie, topping on ice cream, cakes (I think a cheesecake would be a great option) or waffles.

I also canned a quart of applesauce for my neighbor next door.

Apple Pie in a Jar
adapted from Allrecipes.com
Yield 7 quarts

* 4 1/2 cups white sugar
* 1 cup cornstarch
* 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 10 cups water
* 3 tablespoons lemon juice
* 7 quarts peeled, cored and sliced apples

1. Place a rack in the bottom of a large stock pot. Fill pot with hot water. Sterilize 7 1-quart canning jars, 7 lids, and 7 rings by placing on rack, jars upright. Bring water to a boil. Boil 10 minutes. Remove with a holder and allow jars to air-dry. Save water for processing apples.
2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and water in a large saucepan. Place over high heat and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice.
3. Tightly pack apples into sterilized jars. Slowly pour syrup over apples, covering them completely. Gently tap jars on countertop to allow air bubbles to rise. Screw lids on jars.
4. Carefully lower jars into pot using a holder. Leave a 2 inch space between jars. Add more boiling water if necessary, until tops of jars are covered by 2 inches of water. Bring water to a full boil, then cover and process for 30 minutes.
5. Remove jars from pot and place on cloth-covered or wood surface, several inches apart, until cool. Once cool, press top of each lid with finger, ensuring that seal is tight (lid doesn't move up or down at all). Sealed jars can be stored for up to a year.

I am soooooo tired of apples.

I ran out of canning jars and I should have bought more but didn't. If they last till the weekend, I will buy more jars. I think I like the idea of the 'Apple Pie in a Jar' recipes I have seen. That is like the topping apples only with less syrup and I do believe the apple slices are slightly cooked to release some of their juices.
Except applesauce and apple butter, there really isn't much more you can do with apples.

I do not think I would want to freeze an apple pie, but I guess I could run the apples through the hand-held apple slicer/corer and freeze the slices in zip bags. I will have to do some research on that.
Although we had fun, I do not think I will be picking any apples in the future.

October 19, 2010

Veal with Peppers, Onions and Fennel

My Mom used to make this veal with peppers dish. I do not remember the exact recipe because the last time I probably ate it.....was 40 years ago. I assume it was based on a traditional Italian-American one pot saute dish Veal with Peppers & Onions. I know it had wine in it because I remember that God awful bottle of cooking wine in the house and my parents did not drink much wine back then, so what we used was probably all she knew.

Now we know better.

Thank you God...

For good wine...

OK, for everything!

I am adding carrots, fennel, mushrooms and olives.

OK, I take it back....this will be nothing like my Mom's Veal & Peppers dish.

But it has veal in it.

And peppers.

Alright....inspired by my mom's veal recipe.

Now I am happy, I can get some work done.

Sauteed Veal Strips with Vegetables
Makes 4 servings
* 3 tbls butter
* 2 tbls vegetable oil
* 2 ounces bacon or pancetta, 1/4" strips
* 1 1/2 cups onion, 1/4" slice
* 1 medium garlic clove, sliced thin
* 3 medium carrots, 2" julienne
* 1 cup fennel, 1/4" slice
* 2 cups mixed green, yellow, red and peppadew peppers, 1/4" strips
* 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced thin
* 2 tbls white wine or chicken broth
* Salt & Pepper
* 1 pound veal scaloppine, cut into 1x3" strips
* Kalamata olive, pitted

This is an easy and fast way to make carrot julienned. Cut circles on the bias the length that the recipe calls for (this time it is 2"). Line them up on a board and cut through them lickety split.

In a large saute pan, melt butter with olive oil and add bacon. When bacon is rendered, reserve the fat, olive oil and butter. Leave bacon in the pan.
Add onions and garlic. Saute until slightly softened. Season with salt & pepper.
Add fennel & carrots, cover pan and cook on low heat until carrots are soft.
Next comes the peppers. Add more fat if needed.
Saute peppers until softened and remove all vegetables to a bowl.
Adding more fat, saute mushrooms until all liquid is evaporated and browned on sides. Remove to bowl with other vegetables. Cool and cover.

At this point, they can be refrigerated.

Right before eating, add fat to pan and stir-fry veal strips quickly on high heat.
Season with salt & pepper. Add wine and olives to pan and simmer on high to reduce slightly (about 2 minutes).
Add vegetables back to pan, turning a few times to reheat. Add 1 tbls butter, turn off heat and add cheese. Stir and Serve.

For a starch I am making Quinoa for dinner tonight. I thought I might make bulgur but the Quinoa is sweeter and would go better with the salty and tart of the olives.

October 16, 2010

Grandma's handkerchiefs stuffed with zucchini, ham and fontina??

I have made thousands of crepes. I make my manicotti using a crepe (or crespelle). I have never heard of a Fazzoletti della Nonna until I bought Marcella Hazan's Italian Kitchen cookbook.
Now I want to make them every week. What a good way to use up leftovers. I even imagine a child of any age eating these. What's not to love?
A pasta crepe filled with cheese and whatever, folded, smothered with a cream sauce, more cheese, pats of butter and baked until ooey, gooey good?

This is the Italian version of a quesadilla.
Although this was supposed to be for dinner last night, The Nudge wanted a hamburger so I put the crepes in the fridge. Will just make them today.

Crepes (fazzoletti)
* 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
* 1 1/2 cups milk
* 3 eggs
* salt
* 2-3 tbls butter

In a 9" non-stick pan, using a 1/3 cup measure, pour the batter into the pan on one side and twirl around and round until the bottom is covered. Let is cook for 1-2 minutes and flip.

Cook the other side for a few seconds, remove to a paper plate and...........

.......stack them up with a piece of wax paper in between.

The key is to make as many papers as you want crepes. You will loose count, trust me. This recipe made exactly 10 crepes. I will use 4 for dinner and the other 6 will get frozen for manicotti at the end of the month.

* 1 medium zucchini, sliced into very thin rounds (this is where a mandolin comes in handy)
* 1 pound fresh tomatoes, seeded and chopped
* 1/3 cup EVOO
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1 tbls chopped garlic
* 3 ounces boiled ham, chopped fine
* salt & pepper
* 1/4 pound fontina, muenster or jack cheese, grated
* 2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* butter for dotting tops

Saute zucchini, garlic and onions until softened. Add tomatoes and cook until oil separates. Season with salt & pepper.
In crepe, place ham, cheese and zucchini mixture. Fold in half then in quarters.
Place in baking pan with tips facing up, laying 3 crepes in an Au gratin pan or make 2 rows width wise in baking pan. Cover with remaining grated cheeses, dot with butte and bake in 400F oven for about 15 minutes, until cheese is browned and bubbly.
Serve with bread if you want.

These were soooooooo good. I will be making them again....and again....and again.


Candy Corn Parfaits

There was 3 different ways to go with this dessert.

1. Make 3 different puddings - Lemon, Orange, Vanilla

2. Make 3 different mousses - Lemon, Orange and Vanilla

3. Make 3 different layers - Lemon Pudding, Orange Mousse and Vanilla Whipped Cream

I decided that I would make 3 different puddings, top it off with a pumpkin sugar cookie and a plastic spider. Not that I couldn't do the other techniques, I just did not have the energy or the time today.

Plus, The Nudge loves pudding. So it was a simple decision.

This is how I made them:

1 box White Chocolate Pudding
1 box Butterscotch Pudding
1 box Lemon Pudding

Make half the lemon pudding according to the directions on the box. Add a squirt of yellow gel coloring.
Make the whole butterscotch and white chocolate one.

Make sure you let the butterscotch pudding form a skin (something you usually do not want) and cool down completely. I did not do that and the white sunk into the orange on one of them.

I crushed 2 cookies and sprinkled the crumbs on top of the parfaits. Serve with additional cookies.

October 14, 2010

Stuffed Grape Leaves - Daring Cooks Challenge October

Our October 2010 hostess, Lori of Lori’s Lipsmacking Goodness, has challenged The Daring Cooks to stuff grape leaves.

Lori chose a recipe from Aromas of Aleppo and a recipe from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food.

I am serving my grape leaves as part of an antipasti with a vinaigrette, Kalamata olives and yellow grape tomatoes from my garden. Some crumbled feta cheese would be a nice addition also.

I used my own recipe for the filling, using lamb instead of ground beef and a mixture of grains.

In order to make it Diabetic Friendly, I cut the rice down to 1/4 of the normal amount and made a mix of 1/4 cup bulgur and 1/4 cup brown rice. If you do not have Bulgar just make sure you use no more than 1/2 cup brown rice.

I also used lamb for flavor and for a more traditional Middle Eastern meat.
If you do not like the flavor of lamb you can certainly use ground beef. If you want to make it vegetarian, just double the stuffing mixture.

I always try to sneak in a bean of some kind and chopped chickpeas were a great choice here, not only did it give the stuffing a nutty flavor, it also helped to soak up some of the juices, making it an exceptional addition.

I also added chopped red peppers (I always add red peppers where I can).

I liked this stuffing recipe so much, it might just become a regular on our monthly menu. As a matter of fact, this stuffing would be great for any stuffed vegetable, e.g. zucchini, peppers, onions or squash.

Stuffed Grape Leaves with Lamb and Bulgar
* 1 jar grape leaves, drained.
* 1/4 cup Bulgar
* 1/4 cup brown rice
* 1/4 cup olive oil + 2 tbls
* 1 onion, finely chopped
* 3 cloves garlic, minced
* 1/2 pound lean ground lamb
* 1 tsp oregano
* Salt & Pepper
* 4 ounces feta cheese, grated
* 1/4 cup chopped canned chickpeas
* 3 tbls finely chopped parsley
* 2 tbls minced fresh mint
* 1 tsp sugar
* Juice of 1 lemon

1. Carefully separate the grape leaves, place in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them to cover. Let the leaves soak for 20 minutes, then drain and rinse to remove excess salt. Drain the leaves, snip off the stems (reserving stems), and lay the leaves on a towel to dry.

2. In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil, and stir in the rice and Bulgar. Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, drain. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet, add the onion and saute until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute one more minute, until aromas are released. Add the lamb and cook until the meat is well browned, breaking it apart with a fork while cooking, about 15 minutes. Add the oregano, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the feta and remove from the heat. Stir in the rice, parsley and mint.

3. Place one leaf on a flat surface, vein side up, shiny side down. Place a rounded teaspoon of filling in the center of the leaf, near the stem edge. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and form into a roll. Squeeze lightly in the palm of your hand to secure the roll. Repeat process with remaining leaves and filling.

4. Line the bottom of a 3quart heavy saucepan with reserved stems, trimmings and any leftover or torn grape leaves, and arrange bundles seam sides down, packing them close together in layers.

5. Combine the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil with 3/4 cup water, the sugar, and lemon juice, and pour over the stuffed grape leaves. Place a small, heatproof plate on top of the stuffed leaves, cover the pan and simmer over low heat for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until leaves are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Serve warm or room temperature, garnished with lemon slices and mint leaves or olives and tomatoes.

Although they tasted delicious, there were a few things I learned along the way.
Do not make the stuffing ahead of time unless you leave the grain out (while it sits in the fridge it tends to soak up moisture, so when you cook them it continues to soak up moisture causing them to over swell and get mushy).

I would mix the rice/bulgur in just before stuffing the leaves. I also would not bake these in the oven. It takes forever to get the leaves to soften. Stove top is the way to go. If you are using a softer leaf (like chard or cabbage or escarole) you can bake them successfully.

October 13, 2010

Creamy Chicken Marsala with Sage and Cremini Mushrooms

Every once in a while I crave a traditional, but easy Italian chicken dish.

Since it's still only me, chicken cutlets are the perfect solution, as are all the cutlet sauce dishes.....parmesan, marsala, piccata, hazelnut cream...you get the picure.

Must be mushroom season because I can get them on sale. I know come Thanksgiving, the large packages of stuffing mushrooms become available at a great price.

You know you can saute and then freeze in small sandwich bags and then put all of them in a freezer zip?

I do that all the time. I also chop Vadalia's and freeze them when in season. As long as you do not need them to be pretty, they cook from a frozen stage quite well.

I had some leftover cooked mushrooms from last weeks Macaroni and Cheese so I put them in the Marsala dish to use them up. I bought some baby spinach and I will throw that in the pan also. Makes a complete meal. I made some soft and creamy grits.

It was excellent!! Make this next week. It is easy, easy, easy.

I like to add pancetta to my cutlet dishes for added flavor although I don't often see it in other recipes. I also omit the garlic, I love garlic, just not in this dish.

Marsala Chicken with Sage and Cremini Mushrooms
(Makes 4 servings, 1 breast each)

* 4 chicken boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to a even thickness
* salt & pepper
* 2 tbls whole wheat flour, for dredging
* 1 tablespoon olive oil + 1 tbls butter
* 2 ounces pancetta, chopped
* 8 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced
* 1 shallot, minced
* 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped, plus more for garnish
* 1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
* 1/4 cup heavy cream
* 1 tbls butter for finishing the sauce
* 1 tbls minced parsley

1. Place the chicken breast on a square of cling film and sprinkle with a little water. The water helps prevent the chicken from shredding or tearing while pounding. Fold the cling film over and then using the flat side of a meat tenderizer or something equally heavy, pound the chicken until it's an even thickness.
2. Season the chicken on both sides with salt. Meanwhile, add the flour to a wide, shallow bowl and dredge the chicken in the flour, patting off any excess.
3. Place a skillet over medium high heat and add the oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted and is foamy (it should not be brown), place the flour coated chicken into the pan and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes for the first side, until golden brown.
4. Turn the chicken over and continue to cook for 4 minutes or so. Remove the chicken from the pan, place on a plate and cover with aluminum foil.
5. Add the chopped pancetta to the pan and cook until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove and place on a plate covered with several layers of paper towels, to soak up the grease.
6. Add the mushrooms, shallot, sage and 1/4 cup water to skillet. Season with salt & pepper. Cook, tossing frquently, until mushrooms are tender.
7. Add wine and cream; simmer over med-high heat until slightly thickened. Add the chicken breasts and any juices that have collected on the plate to the pan, as well as the pancetta and remaining tablespoon of butter. Stir to combine, turning the chicken to coat in the sauce. Add a few whole sage leaves, the parsley and serve.

If making polenta or grits, add whole sage leaves and 1 bay leaf to the water and remove once the polenta is thick.

October 11, 2010

Chicken Normandy

With all the apples in my house I had to find a way to use them up besides pies and sauce. This was one of them.

Thanks to Elise over at Simply Recipes, her recipe came right at the day I was looking for a main meal using apples.

This is good for you and very flavorful, yet all one pot (we love that, don't we?)

In a oven-proof saute pan, melt 2 tbls butter and saute 2 sliced, cooking apples until brown around the edges.
Remove to paper towel to drain. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Heat oven to 375F.

Season chicken pieces with salt & pepper and dredge in flour.
Add 2 more tbls butter to pan and brown chicken on both sides. Remove.

French cut 1 onion and saute in pan until caramelized.

Add brandy and reduce in half.

Add cider and chicken to pan and place in oven, skin side up for 30 minutes.
Remove and reduce sauce until halved. Add apples and cream and serve with green beans and quinoa.

Chicken Normandy Recipe
(serves 4)
* 4 Tbsp butter
* 2 cooking apples (Fuji or Jonagold are perfect for this dish, do NOT use a red delicious), cored and sliced into wedges (you can peel or not)
* Flour for dredging
* 4 whole chicken legs (with thighs)
* Salt
* 1 large onion, peeled, sliced lengthwise (root to top) into wedges
* 1/2 cup brandy (apple brandy or Calvados if you have it)
* 2 cups apple cider (the cloudy type)
* 1 teaspoon dried thyme
* 1/2 cup cream

1. Sprinkle salt over the chicken pieces and let sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.
2. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Heat 2 Tbsp of the butter in a large, oven-proof sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apple slices and sauté until they turn a little brown around the edges, turning occasionally. Sprinkle the apple slices with a little salt. Set aside on paper towels to drain.
3. Dredge the chicken in flour and place the pieces in the sauté pan, skin side down. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter. Fry until golden, about 3-5 minutes on medium to medium-high heat on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.
4. Add the onions and increase the heat to medium-high. Spread the onion slices out in an even layer to cover the pan. As the onions cook they will release moisture that will help deglaze the pan of the browned bits from the chicken. Sauté the onions, stirring occasionally, until they just being to brown, about 5-8 minutes.
5. Add the brandy to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape any remaining browned bits off the bottom of the pan. Let the brandy boil until it has reduced by about half. Add the cider and bring it to a boil.
6. Sprinkle in the thyme. Add just a pinch of salt to the cider. Arrange the chicken legs in the pan so the skin faces up and is not submerged by the cider-brandy mixture. Place in the oven and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
7. Remove the pan from the oven. (Watch out for the hot handle! I like to run an ice cube over the handle as soon as I remove the pan, to help bring the handle temp down quickly and prevent a bad burn if I forget the handle is hot.) Remove the chicken pieces from the pan and set aside. Place the pan back on a stovetop burner on high heat. Add the apples and boil down the sauce by half.
8. When the sauce reduces to the point where it's a little syrupy, add the cream and turn down the heat. Taste for salt and add some if needed.

To serve, spoon some apples and onions on the plate, top with sauce and a piece of chicken.

This dish was exceptional on flavor with the least amount of effort and money. I know it will be even better tomorrow for lunch. Definitely a KEEPER.

October 10, 2010

Apples, apples, apples...everywhere are apples

Sound like a mouthful....they were....and a belly full too.

My local diner has pumpkin pancakes on the menu once October starts and I always have to get them at least once.

Not only do I love them, the pumpkin is an excellent equalizer for the AP flour (I know they do not use WW flour) so I can eat them quilt free.

I decided to try to make them oober healthy by using my basic Buttermilk-Oat Pancake recipe and jazzing it up with pureed pumpkin, dried apples and spices.

After three samples and 3 more tweaks, I finally ended up with a delicate, light, pumpkiny delicious pancake.

Pumpkin-Apple Buttermilk-Oat Pancakes
* 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
* 1/4 cup AP flour
* 1 cup 2% evaporated milk
* 3 tablespoons dried buttermilk
* 3/4 cups canned pumpkin
* 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
* 2 tbls Splenda brown sugar blend
* 2/3 cups instant oats
* 2 eggs
* 2 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp baking soda
* 1/2 tsp salt
* 2 tbls butter blend, melted
* 1/2 tsp vanilla
* 1/4 cup minced dried apples

In bowl, soak oats in milk and dried buttermilk for 30 minutes. Add rest of wet ingredients. In another bowl, blend dry ingredients. Make a well and add wet ingredients and gently fold mixture (do not over beat).

Spray non-stick pan with butter flavored spray and with 1/3 cup measure, spoon mixture into pan, spreading out to even layer.

Cook until top no longer moves and flip (hint: if you under cook the first side, meaning do not wait for little bubbles, you will have a fluffier pancake. The oats tend to weigh down the mixture and if you overcook it, it gets dense). Cook another minute.

Make packages of 2 and wrap in wax paper. Store all packages in a large zip bag and grab a packet in the AM.

To reheat: Nuke in wax paper for 1 1/2 minutes.

I looked up the stats on squash, any squash. Even though the GI is high the GL is a 3.8 (phenomenal).

Today I have a load of recipes to make, some for testing for my cookbook, some for a challenge and an apple pie for eating.

First recipe: Deep Dish Sour Cream-Apple Pie
Second recipe: Normandy Chicken
Third recipe: Baked Apple Pear Sauce

Can you guess the theme here? I find it easier to prepare one ingredient for multiple dishes and then just cook away. I have to peel, core and slice all those apples we picked last Sunday. I will set up a big bowl of acidulated water and a cutting board, my apple corer/slicer gadget and a garbage bowl which I will put the peels and seeds in to feed the birds and groundhog later.

The crust takes 2 hours to chill, then roll, then 2 more hours to chill in the spring form pans. That about shoots the idea of baking it off today so I guess I will bake them tomorrow with the apple-pear sauce. Since I have to saute all the slices before baking and cooking with them, I can do that while the crust sets.

You have to cream the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.

Mix in the yolk and flour until it comes together. Then STOP. Do not over beat.

Form into a disc, wrap in saran wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Slice 9 cups of apples and saute with sugar until they wilt slightly.

Sprinkle with flour and toss.

Combine vanilla, zest and sour cream and pour over apple slices.
Did I tell you I am making 2 (6") apple pies?
Yup, I am halving the recipe and baking them in my small Christmas-sized springform pans.
This way they can have a choice. A Chai Cheesecake or this.

Crust is refrigerated for 30 minutes.

Spoon filling into crust to the level of the top of the crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 400F. Remove and spread on streusel topping. Reduce oven temp to 375F and bake for 15 minutes.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes more. Let cool in pans for 1 hour. Remove to container and refrigerate overnight before cutting and serving.