hello, gorgeous! – part 2

I could probably write two or three more columns about garden veggies but the cool weather will be moving in soon. Here are the recipes from my latest column in the Aroostook Republican and the Star-Herald. Then I’ve posted a few bonus recipes here: stuffed eggplant, grilled green tomatoes, and a variation on ratatouille (with bacon!). Click to follow me so you never miss a new post, and get a printable version of all my recipes.

horseradish cream & bacon-topped brussels sprouts
These tangy horseradish-cream-topped brussels sprouts are just the thing to serve with corned beef and potatoes, or alongside a baked ham or turkey. Look for sprouts with tight, firm, small deep-green heads; if they’re still on the stalk, so much the better. To prepare, peel off outer leaves and trim the stems.

ingredients

  • 1 1/2  pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 4 strips crisp-cooked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

directions

  1. Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, add 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil. Put brussels sprouts in the basket and steam until tender, 6 to 8 minutes.
  2. Mix bacon, sour cream, horseradish, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add brussels sprouts and toss to coat.

cabbage & cheddar pie
This unusual combination is delicious and can be made ahead of time, refrigerated, then baked when needed.

ingredients

  • Your own basic pie pastry or 1 pkg. prepared, rolled pastry
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 7 to 8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about ¾ of one head)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup grated sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs

directions

  1. Warm oil in Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, sprinkle with a bit of salt, and cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes.
  2. Add cabbage, reduce heat to medium-low, cook cabbage, partially covered and stirring often, 15 to 25 minutes, or until very soft. Add the sugar and more salt and pepper to taste. (If mixture seems too dry, add water as needed by teaspoonfuls.) Remove from heat; mix in sour cream and mustard.
  3. Place pastry in the bottom of a deep dish pie pan and crimp edge. Refrigerate 15 minutes. Preheat oven to 375°.
  4. Add cheese to filling, and stir gently. Spoon filling into pie shell, smoothing top. Sprinkle with crumbs. Bake 40 minutes, or until golden brown. (If top starts to over-brown, cover with sheet of foil.) Garnish with fresh thyme or mint from the garden. Let cool 5 minutes.

green tomato chutney
A great way to use up your green tomatoes, this can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks or frozen for many months. This makes about 2 cups of a wonderfully fragrant and delicious relish to serve with meats and egg dishes or even in a grilled cheese sandwich. I love it dabbed on top of cheddar cheese spread and crackers. Fabulous!

ingredients

  • 1 herb sachet (1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig, 3 cardamom pods, and 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds tied together in a square of cheesecloth)
  • 1 cup champagne (or white) vinegar
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeño pepper (seeds optional)
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 4 cups green (unripe) tomatoes–peeled, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • Salt to taste

directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine herb sachet with vinegar, white wine, water and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat and cook until syrupy and reduced by two-thirds, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Add shallot, ginger, jalapeño and garlic and cook over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Add tomatoes and syrup with the sachet. Cover saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  4. Stir in mustard powder and cayenne. Cover saucepan and continue cooking over medium-low heat until tomatoes are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Remove saucepan from heat. Discard the sachet.
  5. In a medium skillet, heat remaining teaspoon of olive oil. Cook bell peppers, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 8 minutes. Fold into the chutney. Season with salt, transfer to a lidded container, and let cool to room temperature before using.

TIP – You can make larger batches and put up in jars for gifts, but eliminate the oil and cook red bell peppers in the pot with the tomatoes.

veggie stuffed eggplant
This is an easy to prepare dish that sticks to your ribs !

ingredients

  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup chopped zucchini
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
  • 3/4 cup seeded chopped tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup toasted wheat germ (or you can use bread crumbs or tempeh)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

directions

  1. Cut eggplant in half lengthwise; carefully remove pulp, keeping a 1/4-in.-thick shell in tact. Cube pulp; set shells and pulp aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute onion and garlic until onion is tender. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, red pepper and eggplant pulp; saute for 4-6 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, wheat germ, parsley, thyme, salt, pepper and pepper flakes; cook for 1 minute.
  4. Divide mixture evenly between the eggplant shells; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 20-25 minutes or until shells are tender. Yields 2 servings.

grilled green tomatoes
These are a fine accompaniment to steak or chicken, and fabulous alongside scrambled eggs.

ingredients

  • 4 large green tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil

directions

  1. De-stem and slice tomatoes in lengthwise slabs about ½-inch thick. Marinate 1 hour at room temperature.
  2. Heat grill or broiler on high. Cook tomatoes 5 minutes on first side; flip and cook on other side 4-5 minutes.
  3. Serve hot. Yummy!

baked bacon ratatouille
I love ratatouille; I love eating it; I love making it as it is so colorful, so easy and makes you look like you’ve been cooking all day. This involves slightly browning and softening vegetables in bacon fat before baking so a bit of caramelization occurs and deepens the flavor. This version is even easier than the pot-watching kind I’ve always made and it involves bacon! How can it get more delicious?

ingredients

  • 4 slices thick bacon chopped into ½-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more as needed
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small eggplant, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, chopped
  • 1 pepper (red, green, or yellow), chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 3 or 4 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • Splash red wine or balsamic vinegar

directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°. In a large oven-proof pan or dutch oven*, cook bacon till crisp; remove and set aside draining on a napkin or paper towel.
  2. Cook the vegetables in the bacon fat one at a time over medium high heat, separately, for 5 to 7 minutes, adding a little more oil as needed and seasoning with salt, in the following order: eggplant, zucchini, pepper, onion, and tomatoes (remember the order by using the acronym EZPOT, a credo of many famous chefs). As each vegetable is slightly browned and softened, remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Add tomatoes last and scrape up all the brown bits in the pan. When tomatoes are done, add garlic and cook, stirring till fragrant. Add the thyme and basil, and season with salt and pepper. Place all of the other cooked vegetables back in the pan in reverse EZPOT order (onions, peppers, zukes, and eggplant on top).
  4. Place in oven and cook for 55 minutes till bubbling. Remove from oven, stir gently to mix, add vinegar splash, and top with bacon. Serve grated mozzarella on the side. Serve with crusty Italian bread or French baguettes. Can be eaten hot, warm, or cold.

*TIP: Never use a pot or lid with a plastic handle or a Teflon pan made for stovetop cooking in your oven. Cast iron or enamel pans work best going from stovetop to oven seamlessly.

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holiday fare 2 colorful and tasty

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Many folks serve lasagna on Christmas Eve. Prepared ahead, it’ll feed an army. Instead, I like to make a colorful pan of stuffed peppers, and keeping all those holiday treats and calories in mind, I make it vegetarian, served with a nice salad. Double them if you’re entertaining. Here’s your complete, mostly red and green, Christmas Eve (or any eve) supper from breakfast with Overnight Coffee Cake, an appetizer, salad, and entrée for dinner, and a classic Wassail that you can make ahead.

cranberry orange cheese ball   A lovely combination and a great way to start a meal.

Ingredients for the Cheese Ball

  • 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed
  • 2 pkgs (8-oz ea) cream cheese, softened
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar

Ingredients for the Caramelized Pecans

  • ¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 2 Tbs sugar

Directions

  1. Chop cranberries in a blender or food processor. Add cream cheese, juice, and sugar, and blend till well mixed.
  2. Use a rubber scraper to turn mixture out onto a piece of wax paper and shape into a ball as best you can. Place in a bowl and wrap with the wax paper. Refrigerate overnight.
  3. Melt butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. add pecans and sugar and stir about 3-5 minutes. Do not let it burn! Spread on sheet of wax paper or parchment to cool.
  4. When ready to serve, remove cheese from ‘fridge and shape into a ball. Pat pecans on to cover. Serve with crackers, celery and carrot sticks, or pita chips.

broccoli salad   This is Trisha Yearwood’s recipe. It is very good, and the sunflower seeds are a nice touch.

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cups broccoli florets, blanched for 3 minutes, shocked in icewater, and very well-drained
  • ½ small sweet onion, minced
  • ¾ cups golden raisins
  • 1 Tbs apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise
  • ½ jar pimentos, chopped
  • Salt & pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, diced and browned
  • ¼ cup sunflower seeds

Directions

  1. In a large bowl, mix mayo, sugar, vinegar, raisins, onions, and salt and pepper to taste. Add broccoli and pimentos to coat.
  2. Refrigerate 2-3 hours or overnight. Sprinkle with bacon and seeds just before serving.

saucy stuffed peppers   I make these with tempeh, a fermented soy product found in the vegetarian section of your store. Healthy, tasty, and very good for you, you won’t miss the meat. (Of course you can use ground meat if you wish.) You can make these ahead without placing in sauce, wrapping the stuffed peppers individually in clear wrap or a plastic bag. 

Ingredients

  • 3 colorful bell peppers (I use red and green this time of year!), halved lengthwise, and seeded
  • 1 8-oz block of tempeh (I like the one with flax seed), crumbled
  • 6 lg or 12 sm fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 3 Tbs Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1 24-oz can Hunt’s Original spaghetti sauce (or your own homemade—even better!), divided
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°.
  2. Blanch seeded pepper halves by boiling five minutes. Handle carefully with tongs. Shock in icewater. Drain well.
  3. Cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 Pyrex dish with sauce reserving ½ cup for filling. Nest all six pepper halves into sauce, cut side up. Set aside.
  4. In a large skillet, place olive oil, and heat on medium till shimmering; add onions and garlic,, stirring often, for about four minutes till soft. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning. Add tempeh and press with a fork to improve the crumble texture.
  5. Add mushrooms and ½ cup reserved sauce, stirring to coat.
  6. Add bread crumbs, ¼ cup of the parmesan, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; stir well.
  7. Fill pepper halves with tempeh mixture, dividing evenly. Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes or till sauce is bubbling and peppers are tender..
  8. Mix mozzarella with remaining parmesan. Remove foil, sprinkle with cheese mixture; return to oven till cheese is melted and browning. Serve orzo pasta topped with a pepper half or two and a dollop of sauce.

Variation: If you need to double the servings to six peppers (12 halves), you can increase the filling without needing more tempeh by adding 6-8 more mushrooms, a can of well-drained petite diced tomatoes, and a half bag of washed baby spinach. Increase oil to 3 Tbs and double the breadcrumbs and cheese. Cooked rice can also help stretch it.

no-hassle wassail   Serve this tasty hot drink when the carolers come home from a frosty night of song. Or just anytime you’re in the mood for a sweet, spiced treat. You can cut ingredients in half for a smaller crowd. The rum is optional, of course!

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • ½ gallon apricot nectar
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups dark brown sugar
  • 3 cups dark rum
  • 6 cinnamon sticks

Directions

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large pot.
  2. Simmer until a heavenly aroma fills the kitchen.
  3. Transfer to a crockpot and keep warm while serving. For a fancier look, float orange slices decorated with cloves among the cinnamon sticks.

overnight coffee cake   Serve this to overnight guests or your family on Christmas morning. They’ll think you’re wonderful!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped nuts
  • ¼ nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Grease a 9×13 pan. Set aside. Place flour, white sugar, sour cream, butter, half of brown sugar, eggs, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and vanilla in a large bowl.
  2. Beat at medium speed till blended. Spread in prepared pan.
  3. Combine remaining brown sugar, nuts, and nutmeg. Sprinkle evenly over batter. Cover and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
  4. Next morning, preheat oven to 350°. Remove cover from pan and bake 35-40 minutes until it tests done.

Very aromatic, warm, and delicious.

Holidays are the perfect time to share food and fun with family and friends. I hope yours are blessed.

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pasta

ChickenCacciatore

italian three-cheese chicken cacciatore

This recipe is as much about chicken as it is about pasta. Both play an equal role in its deliciousness! This makes a huge amount and is great if you are having guests over or just for a nice family dinner with tons of leftovers for another night. If you prefer dark meat, you can use bone-in or boneless thighs. You can assemble the whole thing ahead of time, cover with foil, and bake later. Baking time would be a bit more if you do that, though. I wouldn’t add any strongly flavored herbs like basil or oregano as they tend to overpower the lovely combined flavors of the cheeses, olive oil, wine and balsamic vinegar.

1 lb. dried bow-tie pasta (Farfalle)
3 T. Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 lb. skinless, boneless, chicken breast halves, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips (4 breast halves)
2 small or 1 med. large yellow onion, sliced
2 medium green bell peppers, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) stewed or diced tomatoes, or use halved cherry tomatoes in season
1/4 C. tomato paste
1/4 C. red wine

1/3 C. balsamic vinegar
1 container (15 oz.) ricotta cheese
1/2 C. grated Asiago or Romano cheese
2 C. (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
2 large eggs, beaten

1 T. dried parsley (or 1/4 C. fresh, minced)

1 T. capers
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Bring 3 quarts water to boil in 6- to 8-quart pot over high heat. Stir in pasta and return to boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, 9-10 minutes. Drain and set aside until ready to use.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Heat oil in large (12-to 14-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-heat for 1 minute. Season chicken with salt and pepper and brown it, flipping occasionally, for 6 minutes or until no longer pink. Remove chicken and reserve until ready to use.

In same skillet, cook onion, garlic, and bell peppers over medium heat, scraping up browned chicken bits and stirring occasionally, until onions and peppers are tender, about 8 minutes.

In a bowl, mix well tomatoes, tomato paste, red wine, and balsamic vinegar and add to onion and pepper mixture over medium heat. When bubbling, add reserved chicken, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and stir in reserved pasta until distributed.

Stir together ricotta cheese, Asiago cheese, mozzarella cheese, eggs, parsley, salt, and pepper in medium bowl until well-blended.

Spread ricotta mixture over skillet contents in even layer. Bake in preheated oven 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Serve directly from skillet.

Makes 6-8 servings.

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ground meats

I was away the beginning of July and realized today that I had forgotten to post the blog for this column, which appeared in the Aroostook Republican on July 2nd. Sorry about that.

Hamburger, ground chicken, turkey, and pork add variety and convenience to your meals. They can be frozen and available at any time and are a tasty background for herbs, spices, and vegetables, rounding out any family meal.

sweet-and-sour turkey meatballs
Whenever my daughter, Bennet, visits, she asks for this dish, and I enthusiastically comply since I love it, too. You can double the recipe for a crowd. And it is easy to make ahead and heat just before serving. Bring to room temperature first.

For the meatballs:

  • ¾ lb ground turkey
  • 1 egg
  • 10 crushed saltines
  • ½ cup canned milk
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • ½ tsp dried savory or rosemary
  • Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350°. Line a cookie sheet with foil coated with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, soften cracker crumbs in milk. Beat in egg. Add remaining items, mixing well. Use a cookie scoop or form balls by hand, about the size of a walnut. Place on cookie sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes or till nicely browned.

While meatballs are baking, prepare the sauce:

  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp lite olive oil
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 2 Tbs white vinegar
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place cooked meatballs in a casserole. Mix all sauce ingredients and pour over. Bake, uncovered, for 1 hour till bubbly. This can also be heated in a crockpot. Check your unit’s directions for temps and times. Serve over noodles with some buttered corn or green vegetable and crusty bread.

hamburger upside-down casserole
This is my mother’s recipe—simple yet delicious. The kids will gobble this right up.

Boil 1½ cups elbow macaroni or small shells according to box directions to make about 3 cups. Drain and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13” baking pan or large casserole dish with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350°.

In a skillet over medium heat, brown:

  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 lb lean hamburger
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp dried (or rubbed) sage
  • ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

Add two 8-oz cans plain tomato sauce to meat mixture and bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Place in the prepared pan or dish. In a large bowl, mix 8 oz of shredded sharp cheddar with the macaroni. Place on top of meat mixture.

Beat 3 eggs with ¾ cups milk and pour over entire mix. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and grated Romano or Parmesan cheese.

Cover and bake for 25 minutes, then uncover and bake 15 minutes more till brown and bubbly.

TIP: If you’re as busy as I am, you forget to defrost things for supper like ground meat or stews and end up with a solid block of ice staring at you at 5 p.m.! Solution? Invest in some good quality zip-seal bags and pack your ground meat flat to fill the entire bag and seal well. A half-inch thick quart-size bag of ground meat will defrost in an hour, or much less if you set it under that faucet and run cold water over it for a while. Same with stew or soup. Fill a large bag about ¾-full. Seal carefully, pressing out the air, then lay it flat in the freezer. No microwave defrosting disasters. So easy to make a last minute meal decision!

white bean and chicken slow-cooker chili
This hearty dish is so easy to prepare and if made ahead, gets better when refrigerated overnight. Go ahead and freeze the leftovers.

Brown 1 large chopped onion in 2 Tbs light olive oil over medium-high heat. When onion is translucent, add 2 chopped garlic cloves, 2 lbs ground chicken, and 1 tsp salt. Cook about ten minutes, stirring often.

Now add:

  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 Tbs chili powder

Stir constantly until spices are very fragrant, being careful not to burn. Deglaze pan with ¼ cup of lime juice, scraping off brown bits from the bottom of the pan, then add 32 oz chicken broth. Mix well and place in a 3½-quart slow-cooker. Next, add 30 oz of white beans (cannelini), drained and rinsed, and mix well. Cook on low setting for at least four hours. Pass the shredded Monterey Jack, sour cream, and pickled jalapenos. Serve with warm flour tortillas.

marsha’s hamburger pie
When I lived in Silver Spring, Maryland, Marsha and her family lived in the apartment below us. She was a true Southern Belle and the cousin of actress Stella Stevens. Marsha made this for me once when I was down with a bad cold. Believe me, the flavors came through as this is very tasty. You do have to make your own pie crust for this one, but it is totally worth it. You can find Cousin Ralph’s Magical Piecrust recipe at the end of the Memorial Day post in this blog.

Ingredients

  • 1 Cousin Ralph’s top and bottom piecrust, prepared (see directions)
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 or 3 dashes cayenne pepper
  • 1½ lbs ground chuck
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 1 can beef bouillon (1¼ cups)
  • 1½ cups dry unseasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ tsp each salt and black pepper
  • ¼ tsp each dried thyme and marjoram
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 375°. Prepare pie crust adding cheese, paprika, and cayenne to the flour before stirring into shortening mixture. Divide crust in two, roll out and place in a pie pan. Cook onion and beef in a skillet till browned. Mix bread crumbs and bouillon and let sit a few minutes. Add beef mixture and remaining ingredients. Mix well, and pour into pie shell. Roll remaining crust and put over top. Pinch to seal edges. Cut vents.

Bake on the lowest shelf of your oven to set bottom crust. Bake 45 minutes or more till golden brown. Brushing the top crust with whole beaten egg imparts of wonderful sheen and makes your dish look like it was prepared by the finest chef!

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