Monthly Archives: January 2012

Brussel Sprout Salad

So by now I'm sure you none of you reading this are surprised that this salad will include two of my favorites: bacon and blue cheese. My hubby and I recently went out to a nice French restaurant where we ordered a salad similar to this. I've seen a ton of brussel sprout salads in mags lately, but often they are served raw and shredded, like coleslaw (see here for my thoughts about this salad), so when this came to our table I was surprised that it was in fact a wonderfully savory and sweet way for me to eat this often shunned, now celebrity-like veggie.

I have to say I was pretty impressed with this salad. Since it is one that can be made ahead and is full of nutrients, I wouldn't be shocked if it started to make an appearance at the holiday buffet for my family. You have been warned!

Shopping List:

1 pound brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved

3 slices of bacon

1/4 cup of walnuts

2 green onions, sliced

1 apple, peeled and sliced

1-2 tablespoons light blue cheese dressing

Instructions:

1. In a 8 x 8 baking dish toss the brussel sprouts with about 1 tablespoon olive oil and roast at 475 degrees for about 20 minutes.

2. When the brussel sprouts have cooled for about 10 minutes, toss in all the other ingredients and serve.

Serves 4 as a side dish

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Strawberry Jellies

Here I go again with these sweet treats that I can live with giving to my kids as a treat. This one comes from an ancient, and I do mean antique (see definition here), cookbook I have had since I was about 12-years old and I first started to get really interested in cooking.

Ok, so I definitely adapted the recipe (the original called for an additional 2 cups of sugar! that’s just ridiculous.) for our modern tastes. I used applesauce and strawberry jello, but you could certainly used any stonefruit or pears that you’ve pureed with any flavor of jello you like.

Shopping List:

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin powder

1 (6 oz.) package strawberry jello

1 1/2 cups of applesauce (see my recipe here)

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Instructions:

1. In a medium pot over high heat combine all of the ingredients until they are well mixed, and then bring it to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, fill a 9 x 3-inch loaf pan with cool water.

3. Once it comes to a boil let it continue to boil away for 1 minute.

4. When the time is up, empty the loaf pan of the water and immediately pour the hot jello mixture in to the pan. No need to dry it.

5. Once it is cool enough to handle place it in the refrigerator for 3 hours or until firm (I let mine sit over night). Then with a knife dipped in water, cut the jellies into 1 inch squares, because it’s the easiest shape really. Pull them out of the pan and place them on an unlined baking tray. Loosely cover the jellies with waxed paper and let them dry out for 8 hours.

6. At this point it’s up to you if you want to roll them in granulated sugar as I did in the photo above. You don’t really need to since they’re perfectly sweet without it. But the sugar does give a pretty sparkle to the treat. But beware, after a few hours sitting around the sugar started to become syrupy, which is kinda gross. So if you’re serving these to friends I’d  wait to roll them in the sugar, but my family didn’t care about the syrupy-ness. I only mention it because it surprised me.

Makes about 30 1-inch candies.

Adapted from: Betty Crocker’s Cooking for Boys and Girls, 1984.

Indulgent Chocolate Bread Pudding

What’s moist and spongy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and a chocolatey mess  all over. This dessert! It is perfect for a Sunday night dinner, since you can make it in advance, and let it bake while you are eating the meal.

This recipe idea was sparked by the fact that for a while now, I’ve been trying to find incentives for my picky eaters to finish their meals and unfortunately what works is the appeal of a treat after dinner–which in all reality if they finished their meal, they should have seconds not dessert. But the real reality is that I am so excited that they’ve finished what I put on their plate, I don’t mind treating them.

Anyway, after the holidays and all of the goodies that have come our way, I thought I’d try and sneak in some healthier versions of treats (more of these to come soon). Since I figure that with bread pudding we are getting some protein and fiber from the eggs and the bread, so if I reduce the sugar it’s not so bad for us as treats go. Don’t get me wrong, this is still not a granola trail mix cookie or any other super healthy treat. But it is pretty darn good.

Shopping List:

3 cups of torn bread (I used 5 slices of whole wheat sandwich bread)

1 egg plus 1 yolk

 1 1/2 cups milk (I used 1%)

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup semi -sweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. In a medium pot on high heat bring 1/2 cup of the milk and all of the sugar to a boil.

2. And then, add the chocolate, stirring until the chocolate is melted into the milk. Then take it off the heat.

3. Slowly whisk in the eggs, the remaining milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla.

4. Place the bread cubes in a 4 cup glass baking dish and pour the chocolate mixture over the bread. Push the bread down so that it is all drenched in the chocolate.

5. Set this small dish inside a larger 8 x 8 inch glass baking dish and fill with 1 inch of warm water. This is called a water bath, it allows the pudding to cook evenly. Bake for 55-65 minutes at 325 degrees. To serve, dust with powdered sugar or top with your favorite ice cream or whipped cream.

Serves:4

Adapted from: The Joy of Cooking

Everything-Pizza Pasta Bake

One of my favorite all-time comfort meals has to be pizza with everything on it. Now, I didn’t always like it this way, and for sure I don’t always like this filling version of pizza. But it definitely has a solid place in my heart. I don’t know, I think it’s something about the blend of the spiciness of the meats and the freshness of the veggies all smothered in cheese.

Ok, so this recipe won’t be going on your Trying-to-Get-in-Shape-for-the-New-Year Diet, but it certainly is a great make-ahead meal that you can twist to suit your family’s tastes. Also, it’s a lot easier than trying to master making fresh pizza dough in a flash.

Shopping List:

3 links of mild or spicy, fresh Italian sausage

1/2 cup of sliced pepperoni, cut in half

8 ounces of sliced mushrooms

1 green pepper, diced

4-ounce can of sliced olives

1 (16-ounce) box of your favorite dry pasta (as a side note, the kinds that have nooks and ridges are best to allow the sauce to cling well)

4 ounces cream cheese, block style

2 cups of your favorite Marinara sauce (click here for mine)

1 teaspoon garlic salt

5 fresh basil leaves

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Instructions:

1.Start the pot of water to prepare your favorite pasta noodle shape. Follow the directions on your package of noodles once your water is boiling. See my suggestions above for types to use here.

2. In a large saute pan on medium heat, squeeze the sausage out of the casing and cook it until it is no longer pink. This will take about 5-7 minutes. Just about this time your water might be boiling, so go ahead and pop those noodles in and set a timer.

3. Remove the sausage from the pan, but continue to leave the pan on medium heat and add the mushrooms and green peppers to the pan. Cook these about 5 minutes or until the peppers are beginning to soften, but have not totally changed color.

4. In a separate small sauce pan over medium heat, stir the marinara and the cream cheese until they make a nice creamy pink sauce. Then take it off the heat.

5. Now, add the pasta and all the toppings into the large pot you used for the noodles, and stir in the sauce. Make sure to cover the noodles well and distribute the sauce.

6. In a buttered, or sprayed with cooking spray, 9 x 13-inch pan spoon in all the mixed up pasta. Top with the shredded cheese and bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until the cheese melts.

NOTE: If you make this ahead and store it in the fridge, just make sure to take it out of fridge and let it come to room temp for about 30 minutes before you need to put it in the oven. When you’ve got it ready to put it in the oven to rewarm, spray some foil with cooking spray and cover the dish. Warm it until the center is warm throughout, about 45 minutes at 325 degrees.

Stuffed Potato Chowder

With all of the parties and fancy foods, sometimes it feels really good to just satisfy a had a craving for Marie Calendar’s Potato Cheese Soup.

I am a soup lover, for sure. I always have been–no doubt about it. And if you’ve followed this blog I’m sure you’ll recall some of my favorite qualities of soup. See below for a list of some of my older posts about soup.

But back to my inspiration for this soup, it used to be that I would order this soup for take out pretty often when I was living at home during college. And that habit turned into an absolute fascination with potato chowders.

Since then, I have tried many versions at countless restaurants, but I have never found one I like as much as the one at this restaurant. Now, I’ve given this soup a lot of thought. And, I think what makes this soup so wonderful is that is so rich and thick that’s it’s almost like eating a bowl of mashed potatoes–which by the way, who could resist that?

So of course when I was recovering from my recent illness it was natural that I would return to my old favorite soup, but this time instead of heading over to the supermarket for the blah version from the deli counter, I decided to give it a shot and try to recreate it myself.

Turns out this soup is super easy thanks to a few prepped ingredients from the grocery store, which translates to very little hands on time. And it’s ready in under 30 minutes start to finish. How great is that!

Shopping List:

4 cups frozen hash brown potato cubes

2 cup low sodium chicken broth

2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1/2 cup sour cream

1/4 cup chopped green onions or chives

4 cloves garlic, smashed

4 slices of bacon, chopped as finely as desired

2 dry bay leaves

Instructions:

1. In a medium-sized stock pot over medium-high heat cook bacon and garlic until the bacon is cooked, but not crispy. This takes about 5 minutes.

2. Add to the pot the frozen potatoes, the broth and the bay leaf. Bring it to a boil and then reduce the heat to low to cook uncovered for an additional 20 minutes.

3. After about 20 minutes the potatoes will have started to disintegrate. Take it off the heat and take out the bay leaf and add the cheese and sour cream. Stir it all together so that the cheese really melts into the potatoes.

4. Plate in a bowl and top it with a tablespoon of chives.

Serves: 4

Are you looking for my other soup recipes? Check out these links to previous posts: White Bean Soup, Spicy and Tipsy Tomato Soup, Chicken Enchilada Soup, Lentil Chorizo Soup, Pasta e Fagioli Soup, and Simple Technique: Chicken Stock.