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Showing posts from November, 2009

Turkey's Last Stand

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It’s the end of the long holiday weekend. You’re shopped out from Black Friday jostling for bargains and turkeyed out from two days of leftovers. But one peek in the refrigerator reveals a few more bits of perfectly good meat. Waste not, want not … give your turkey scraps new life in easy but classic lasagna.

Add a side salad, a glass of Chianti and a loaf of fresh crusty bread. You won't even notice you're eating leftover anything -- it tastes that good!

TURKEY LASAGNA
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
1 egg
16 ounces ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Italian cheeses (Mozzarella. Parmesan, Asiago blend)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley (1 teaspoon dried)
2 cups shredded cooked turkey (or 1 pound ground turkey, cooked, crumbled and drained)
4 cups of your favorite marinara sauce
¼ cup grated mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray 13 x 9 x 3 inch deep square baker with cooking spray.

In medium bowl stir egg, ricotta, mixed cheeses and parsley until well mixed. Place 2 cups of marina…

Fruitcake Oatmeal Cookies: What's not to like?

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Oatmeal, dried plums, honey and various spices in English Christmas pudding was the beginning of the Christmas fruitcake tradition. By the 16th century, the oatmeal was removed and some of the familiar ingredients of cake were added, such as eggs, butter and wheat flour. The concoction was then boiled into a plum cake, often with no plums or any dried fruits at all.

Wealthy families with ovens baked the “Christmas Cake” adding more expensive dried fruit and spices. The cake celebrated the Wise Men bringing exotic spices to the Christ child. And here’s where it gets all Dickensian.

The English upper class would give out pieces of fruitcake to the poor, who sang Christmas Carols in the streets in the late 1700's. By the end of the 18th century, there were actually laws saying that plum cakes (generic for dried fruit) could only be consumed at Christmas, Easter, weddings, christenings, and funerals. Seems to me the masses were tricked into believing that having fruitcake was special.

I’…

Leftovers and Life Have a Lot in Common

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Yesterday's turkey, peas, carrots and mushrooms and a few chunks of boiled potatoes in a casserole dish along with some gussied up gravy. Add a few fresh ingredients and a rolled biscuit crust and dinner is served.

Leftovers are a lot like life, a delicate combination of new and old. Tomorrow starts the beginning of another holiday season and it's only natural to think about changing a few things with the new year ahead.

Here are a few thoughts to focus on that might help you in making the best of what you've got:

1. Get outside of your head. We live in an uncertain world. Worried times puts us in our heads; fretful for many hours every day. We mistreat our bodies, eat poorly, always at a dead run to get things done without taking time to integrate our physical self with our inner selves. Reconnecting with our bodies by walking, taking a warm bath instead of a fast shower, yoga, any activity that us connects with our bodies again can release tension.

2. Allow yourself to be hu…

A Passion for Pumpkin

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Even the oven challenged Pilgrims of 1621 enjoyed a sweet pumpkin recipe on that first Thanksgiving. They hallowed out pumpkin centers, filled them with milk, honey and spices, and roasted them whole in the hot ashes of the cook fire. Once settled into proper households, early American cooks created the New World tradition of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream.

Poet and editor Sarah Josepha Hale is credited with convincing Abraham Lincoln to make Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863 -- it took her five presidents and 17 years to get it done. Where there's a will there's away. That goes for the most famous Thanksgiving pie of all too because no matter how much turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes you eat, there's always room for a good cup of coffee and a piece of pumpkin pie. Yummy!
TRADITIONAL PUMPKIN PIE 2 cups pumpkin puree, fresh cooked or canned
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
Dash salt
1 can (14 fl. oz.) s…

Easy Eye Popping Popovers

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Food historians generally agree that popovers were created here in the colonies by English housewives who missed their Yorkshire puddings but needed a shortcut and fewer ingredients for a less fussy version of the original.

According to Wikipedia, the first cookbook to print a recipe for popovers was M. N. Henderson, Practical Cooking, in 1876. Roasted beef or pork drippings made the little puffs more savory than the popovers most folks like these days. Today's recipes lend themselves to strawberry jam for breakfast or tea as much as for a bread substitute for holiday dinner.

The higher they rise, the better they taste is my motto and this recipe is one I have been using for over thirty years. It has never let me down.

EYE POPPING POPOVERS
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups 1% milk
dash of salt

Preheat over to 425 degrees F. In a medium mixing bowl and using a whisk, beat the eggs until slightly frothy. Add the milk and again, using the whisk, beat until mixture is slightly fr…

Not Your Granny's Crannies

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Why work so hard on your Thanksgiving turkey and skimp on the most delightful side of all? Fresh cranberry sauce is as easy as it is impressive to serve. Not to mention, fresh cranberries are good for you.

Cranberries are an under appreciated fruit. Northeast Native Americans swore by the health benefits of the cranberry as a dietary staple. Early New England sailors packed the little wild berries, rich in Vitamin C, in their ship larders to prevent scurvy. Research has since validated the old adage that drinking cranberry juice will reduce or eliminate instances of urinary tract infection, but other, more recent studies have also linked the lowly cranberry with increased benefits in fighting heart disease and cancer.

A luscious cranberry sauce is one of the easier ways to wow your holiday guests. Go for it!

GINGER ORANGE CRANBERRY SAUCE
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
dash salt
4 cups fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, finely grated
2 tablespoons orange li…

It's Almost Cookie Swap Time

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Counting the weeks to my annual cookie swap with friends. I have six really good cookie recipes and there are just about six weeks to swap day. Once a week, I'll share a cookie recipe with you and by the time the holidays roll around, you'll be too confused to choose one and possibly five pounds heavier. LOL

When our younger son was little, he wouldn't eat anything that remotely resembled a living thing. Gummy bears, chocolate bunnies, and gingerbread men were banned. We ate jelly beans, chocolate balls and I made wreath cookies instead. Now that he's all grown up and living in New York I'm free to use my favorite cookie cutter to bake up the cute little guys. And there are no tears or fears when I bite off a head!
It's a pain that this dough needs to be refrigerated before rolling but the good news is that it can be rolled and rerolled without toughening up the second batch and, while the cookies do puff up some during baking, they hold their shape pretty well.…

Elegant Italian Comfort Food

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You'd think having an Italian mother I would have a family recipe for osso buco. But my mom's family didn't hail from that part of Italy. So on page 137 of The Silver Palate Cookbook you will find what I used to make my first osso buco more years ago than I care to count backwards to!

A really good osso buco has a slightly tangy taste, a rich depth of flavor created by the layering of flavors. As is my way, I fiddled with the recipe until the ingredients made me (and Picky Paul) happy. After many, many efforts, I managed to construct an osso buco that I can confidently serve to guests knowing it will satisfy even the most discriminating palate.
That doesn’t mean I’m actually finished with my osso buco recipe. My osso buco will be forever “evolving”. That’s what good cooking is all about for me.
OSSO BUCO 6 one pound bone-in lamb shanks or bone-in veal shanks (or a combo of both) 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 shallot, finely grated 1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped 1 r…

A Different Kind of Wellington

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A few years back it occurred to me that pork tenderloin, with just the right seasoning, wrapped in puff pastry and baked would make a great substitute for Beef Wellington.

Looking for a special main dish that doesn't cost a fortune and doesn't take hours to prepare? This is it. And much easier to make than it looks, as long as you use ready-made puff pastry.

The result is impressive – not to mention very, very yummy -- especially when home made apple sauce (served warm or chilled) is on the menu!

PORK WELLINGTON
1 ½ pounds of pork tenderloin
2 cloves garlic, finely grated
1 pat butter or margarine
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (needs 3 hours to defrost in refrigerator)
2 egg whites, beaten w/ 1 tablespoon cold water makes egg wash

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. On a lightly floured surface, roll one puff pastry sheet to a size that will wrap around the pork tenderloin. Melt butter or margarine in microwave about 15-30 seconds, whip in mustard and grated garlic to…

Warming Up a Cool Night

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So it's not snowing here ... yet. But today's blustery wind and an annoying case of the sniffles kept me huddled on the couch sipping hot lemon tea from my favorite mug and watching old flicks on television. It wasn't long before I nodded off.

Next thing I knew it was four in the afternoon and Fisherman Paul came rolling in after a day on the river, hoping for a stick to his ribs hot meal. Lucky for him, I had the ingredients on hand for this creamy veggie stew and a few chunks of cooked lobster to make it extra yummy!

VEGGIE SEAFOOD CHOWDER POT
1 small shallot, finely grated
1 cup cauliflower, chunky chopped
1 cup broccoli, chunky chopped
1/2 cup carrot, large grated
1/2 cup Gruyere or cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup 1% milk
1/2 cup light cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon arrowroot, dissolved in 1/4 cup water or semi-dry white wine
Dash of salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste
1 pound mild white fish, cut into one inch chunks (flounder works well) or …