Monday, June 29, 2009

Chicken Salad

4-5 cups chicken, cooked and cubed

1 cup celery

1/2 cup green onions

1 cup silvered almomds

2 cups halfed, green grapes

2/3 cup mayo

1/4 cup half and half

1 t. salt

1/2 t. pepper

2 T. white vinegar

Add celery, onions, almonds and grapes to chicken. In separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients. Toss with chicken mixture. Chill.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ginger Flank Steak with Sake-Glazed Vegetables

A soy-sake marinade is the base for a delicious reduction sauce. For convenience, begin this one day ahead and refrigerate the steak in its marinade overnight.

Rating: 5 stars
Difficulty: Easy
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 6


1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup sake (Japanese white wine)
1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3 Tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger (asian markets sell this already minced and cheaper than grocery stores)
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 - 2 lb. flank steak

1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1.5 inch lengths

3 Tablespoons peanut oil
2 red bell peppers, but into 1" wide strips
1.5 lbs. crimini mushrooms, halved, each half cut crosswise into 1/4" thick slices (I used Shitake mushrooms)
4 green onions, cut into 1" lengths
2 teaspoons cornstarch


Combine first 6 ingredients in 13x9x2 glass baking dish. Add meat. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to one day ahead. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour before continuing.

Cook asparagus in large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Drain. Rinse under cold water to cool. Drain again.

Heat 2 tablespoons peanut oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add red bell pepper strips and saute 3 minutes. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms are soft, about 5 minutes. Add green onions and asparagus and saute until vegetables are tender, about 2 minutes longer. Transfer vegetables to serving platter. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon peanut oil in same skillet over high heat. Remove steak from marinade; reserve marinade. Add steak to skillet and cook to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to cutting board. Tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place reserved marinade in small saucepan. Whisk in cornstarch. Whisk over high heat until sauce thickens and boilds, about 3 minutes. Remove sauce from heat. Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut steak across grain on diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Arrange steak slices atop vegetables on platter. Spoon some of sauce over meat and vegetables. Serve, passing remaining sauce separately.


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Smothered Chicken Breasts

I got this recipe from a friend of a friend, so I don't know where it originated. However, not being a big fan of chicken crockpot recipes - this one is amazing! Each time I make it I remind myself to make it more often. It's worthy of being a regular meal in my opinion. While it was cooking everyone in my family made separate comments saying, "wow, something smells good!"

Rating: 10 stars!!!
Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 40 minutes, divided
Cooking time: 4 hours


3 - 4 LBS. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons soy sauce (low sodium)
1/4 cup dried chives
4 - 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced (drained if using canned)
2/3 cup water


4 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
6 heaping Tablespoons whole wheat flour
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups milk - rice, soy or dairy (I used 1 percent)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
2 heaping Tablespoons Better Than Bouillon - Chicken flavor

Line crockpot with Reynolds Slow Cooker Liners and add the first six ingredients. Cook on HIGH for 3 hours. In the meantime prepare sauce and pour it over chicken when the 3 hour timer goes off.

To make the sauce:

In a saucepan, melt butter mixed with oil. Add minced garlic and saute briefly. Whisk in flour and cook until smooth and browned. Add milk and cook over medium-high heat, whisking continuously until thick and bubbly. Add broth, salt and pepper if desired, and soy sauce. (Be sure to taste before adding salt - I didn't need to add any)Let cook until thickened, and pour over chicken in crockpot.

Cook chickena nd sauce on HIGH for 1 hour, then check the chicken for doneness. If not cooked through, continue to simmer on LOW until done. Taste sauce and correct seasonings before serving.

TIP: You can use a meat thermometer to be certain that boneless white meat chicken breasts are cooked to an internal temperature of 170 degrees.

The sauce is not super-thick, but rich and creamy. Serve sauce over mashed potatoes or rice and serve with lots of fresh whole grain bread to sop up the sauce! Enjoy!

Posted by Debi

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Tuscan Pasta Salad

I made this tonight using a recipe from a box, but changing it according to the ingredients I had on hand. You can serve it hot or cold. It turned out to be fantastic!

Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 15 minutes
Rating: 5 stars

1 16 oz. box pasta of your choice (I used Barilla Elbow and Bow Tie)
8 oz. jar roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
3 T. EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
2 cups shredded cheese (six cheese Italian blend)
20 leaves fresh basil or 1 T. dried basil
2 T. pine nuts
1 t. minced garlic
Salt and Pepper to taste


Cook pasta according to package directions minus 1 minute. Drain well. Pour pasta into a large bowl. Sprinkle with olive oil and add all other ingredients. Stir well. Serve immediately, or chill to serve cold.

Posted by Debi

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

I've never made this before, but it's one of Tom's favorites. Since it's raining (the perfect time to bake) I decided to bake this one for him.

Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 30 minutes
Baking Time: 1 hour
Rating: TBD


1 1/4 c. sugar, divided
3 tbsp. cornstarch (arrowroot instead)
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 c. rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
2 c. sliced fresh strawberries
1 tbsp. butter
Pastry for double crust pie

In large mixing bowl stir together sugar, cornstarch, salt and ground nutmeg. Add rhubarb pieces and sliced strawberries, toss gently to coat fruit. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare and roll out pastry. Line a 9 inch pie plate with half of the pastry. Trim pastry to edge of pie plate. Pour fruit mixture into pie plate. Dot with butter, place pastry on top of filling. Cut slits in top to allow steam to escape seal and flute edge. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

ADDED NOTE: After slicing this pie, I discovered it was too runny - the juice didn't thicken at all! I pulled out my favorite baking book: Baking Illustrated (which I should have done in the first place) and discovered this is a very common problem with this pie because the rhubarb and strawberries both retain a large amount of liquid. So here's what they recommend:
Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Add the rhubarb and 1/4 cup of the sugar and cook, stirring frequently, until the rhubarb has shed most of its liquid but is still firm, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and refrigerate until cool. Instead of cornstarch they suggest using 3 Tablespoons of arrowroot - for better flavor. Also make sure to vent the top crust at least 8 times to allow the extra moisture to escape. The pie tasted wonderful

Posted by Debi

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Banana Bread

This is a recipe my Mom always made as I was growing up, and I've continued the tradition with my family. Now my daughter makes it too! I think you'll agree - once you've had this you'll never like any other banana bread recipe; It's the best - 5 stars!

Difficulty: Easy
Preparation: 10 minutes
Baking: 1 to 1-1/2 hours
Source: Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook from the 1940's.
Oven Temperature: 325

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 overripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Mix sugar, shortening and eggs until well blended. In a separate bowl mix flour and soda. Add the flour and bananas to the egg mixture and blend well. Add nuts, if preferred.

Lightly grease a loaf pan with butter spray. Pour the batter into the pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in middle comes out mostly clean. If you wait until it's completely clean, its usually too long and the bread will be dry. Also, for added moisture, I usually freeze my bananas until ready to use. Thaw in microwave. Peel bananas and add to batter - squeeze the banana peels over the batter to extract as much juice as possible.

Best made on a rainy day, at least that's our tradition!
Posted by Debi