Linguine, with Garlicky Kale and White Beans

 

Linguine with Kale and White Beans

Linguine with Kale and White Beans

This dish gets its flavor from lots of garlic.  Ya gotta love garlic!!  It makes the most bitter greens taste divine.  As it cooks and becomes sweeter, so do the greens lose their bitterness, and become silky and tender.  Pasta, greens and beans—typically an Italian-style meal.  All you need to think you’d “died and gone to heaven” is some Parmesan cheese dusted over the top, some crusty, toasted bread and a glass of white wine.  SIGH!

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Extremely easy to make with only five ingredients, and taking only about 30 minutes to prepare, this is a dish to put on the table when you’re in a hurry, but you want your family to be well fed on a healthy meal.  I used fresh leaf kale in my preparation, but you could speed up the process by using packaged prechopped kale, found in the produce department of most supermarkets.  Other than the kale, you probably have everything else to prepare this dish already in your cupboard.

I like the fact that only 1/2 pound of pasta makes 4 generous servings, because of the addition of the healthy kale and beans.  Calories are low/serving (381);  and the whole nutritional profile of this dish is impressive:  Fat, 11.8 g;  Protein, 13 g;  Carb, 58 g;  Fiber, 5 g; Cholesterol, O g; Iron, 4 mg;  Sodium, 34 mg.;  Calcium, 121 mg.

LINGUINE WITH GARLICKY KALE AND WHITE BEANS

Yield:   Makes 4 servings of about 1 3/4 cups  (calories:  381)IMG_7334

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces uncooked linguine
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 cups chopped kale (about 8 oz.)
  • 1 ( 15-ounce) can unsalted cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • grated Parmesan cheese at the table (optional)

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat.  Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid.

2.  Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat.  When garlic begins to sizzle, add 1/2 cup water and the kale;  cover and cook 5 minutes or until kale is tender, stirring occasionally.

Cook the kale with garlic and a little water.

Cook the kale with garlic and a little water.

3.  Add beans, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute or until heated through, stirring occasionally.

Add beans and cook to warm through.

Add beans and cook to warm through.

Add drained pasta and 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid to pan;  toss to coat.  Add the remaining cooking liquid if needed to liquify further.  Transfer to serving bowl and sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper over the pasta.  Serve immediately with grated Parmesan if desired.

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SOURCE:   Cooking Light

 

 

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Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Blueberry Crumb Bars

Summertime desserts seem to fall into three major categories:  cool, frozen concoctions,  no-bake pies and such, and fresh fruit delights.  Today’s recipe falls into the latter group.

Right about now I’m seeing blueberries appearing at the supermarket that are coming to us from California.  It’s still too early for  East Coast berries to make their appearance, but blueberries hold up fairly well and those arriving here from the West coast are looking good.  Although I missed making these bars for Memorial Day, they are good anytime at all, and perhaps for July 4th.  The reason I say that is because with their blue color from the berries and light crumb topping, they have a patriotic color theme, and they certainly speak of summer.

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These bars are ridiculously good. They are the sort that will make you want to eat the whole pan, and then moan at how good they were.  Having tried the recipe as written using blueberries, I would feel confident in changing up the fruit and using a different berry,  or in the fall, using sliced apples with brown sugar instead of granulated.  This is just what I love, a really good recipe that lets you try it different ways and never lets you down.  Whooo-Hoo!

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From my experience with making these bars, I have two suggestions:  use a little more than half the dough mixture for the bottom layer, the bars will cut better and the berries won’t leak through to the bottom.  Also, if your berries are a little tart, you may want to add an additional tablespoon of sugar to the berries.

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BLUEBERRY CRUMB BARS

Yield:  15 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or half white flour, and half whole wheat
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • a pinch of cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening or butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 4 cups fresh blueberries

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 375*F.  Grease a 13 x 9-inch pan.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, 1 cup sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon.  Use a fork or pastry cutter to cut in the shortening (or butter).   Mix in the egg–dough will be crumbly.

Stir egg into dry ingredients.

Stir egg into dry ingredients.

Pat half of it into the bottom of the prepared pan.

3.  In another bowl, stir together the cornstarch and remaining 1/2 cup sugar.  Gently stir in the blueberries.  Sprinkle the berry mixture evenly over the crust.

Layer berries over bottom crust.

Layer berries over bottom crust.

Crumble the remaining dough over the berries.

Top with remaining crumbs.

Top with remaining crumbs.

4.  Bake for 40 – 45 minutes, till the top is lightly browned.  Cool completely before cutting into squares.

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SOURCE:   All recipes.com

 

Back-porch Herb Garden

Potted Basil Garden

Potted Basil Garden

I think that one of the things I love best about summer is having pots of fresh herbs growing on my back porch.  Two that I absolutely must have are basil and parsley.  Basil appears in any dish that has tomatoes in it, and parsley makes its appearance in salads, in cooked dishes and as a garnish.  Both provide a bright spot of green and color contrast with most foods.

Italian Flat-leaf Parsley

Italian Flat-leaf Parsley

In the past I’ve pretty much stuck with Italian sweet basil and Italian flat-leaf parsley.  This year I was a little late getting to the garden center for my plants, and on the day I arrived, a sale was in progress whereby if you bought two of one kind, you got one free.  The display of basil(s) was awesome.  So of course, I got three;  one of my usual kind, and two varieties that were new to me.  At such a bargain, I thought it would be fun to experiment with some different kinds.

When a recipe calls for some chopped basil can you use any kind?  I think not.  A quarter of a cup of one kind is not the same as a quarter cup of  another kind.  One might be minty, another might be cinnamony, yet another could be lemony.  Use the wrong kind and you could wind up spoiling a dish you’ve worked so hard to create.  So knowing that there are many (did you know, over sixty?) kinds of basil, I set out to learn about what I had purchased.

Classic Sweet Basil

Classic Sweet Basil

The most well-known of the basil(s) that are available here are the sweet basils like Italiano Classico.  These are the ones that work best in Italian dishes.  Take, for example, Caprese Salad.  All it needs is olive oil, sweet basil and tomatoes, plus a dash of salt and pepper.   Or…Classic pesto:  olive oil, salt and pepper, sweet basil, pine nuts, garlic, and grated Romano cheese.   Sweet basil is the most common type of basil carried by large retailers and garden centers.  It you know basil at all, it’s probably through your experience with sweet basil.

Ruffled Purple Basil

Ruffled Purple Basil

My second type of basil is a purple basil.  It has large dark, ruffled leaves.   It has the aroma of basil, but a much stronger licorice or anise flavor than sweet basil.  This is a very attractive and unusual ornamental basil whose leaves are maroon in color and flowers are pale pink.  In addition to its use in recipes, it is also frequently used when making infused vinegars and oils.  It makes an attractive garnish because of the dark purple leaves.  If this plant grows well, I may attempt making some infused vinegar.

Bush Basil

Green Goddess Basil

The third kind I bought is a short dwarf variety that has tiny little leaves.  It is called Goddess Basil or Spicy Globe Basil because of its small compact form.  It’s leaves are much smaller than most varieties.  The flavor is typical for basil, sweet and slightly peppery, but it is very strong. It can be used in most recipes calling for sweet basil.

I planted all three types together in a large pot.  I love the look of a large planter on the step, and usually make up several with flowers in them.  I hope the basils will grow nicely, and get along together, providing me with some interesting flavor variations in my cooking.

The most important thing to keep in mind when using difference types of basils is to use the variety that best matches the flavors in the dish you are preparing.

Play nice, you guys :)

Play nice, you guys 🙂

 

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Potted Basil Garden

Potted Basil Garden

Zucchini and Onion Gratin

Zucchini and Onion Gratin

Zucchini and Onion Gratin

I know that later in the summer we will be so overwhelmed by the amount of zucchini that is available, we won’t know what to do with it all, but right now the thought of making a zucchini baked dish with some tender young zucchini, seemed like a good idea to go with my grilled chicken menu.  And later on when all those zucchini show up on my doorstep, I’ll be returning to this recipe again, and again.

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The use of the term gratin in food preparation means that an ingredient is topped with a browned crust that can be made from breadcrumbs, grated cheese, eggs or butter.  A gratin is usually prepared in a shallow dish, then baked or cooked under an overhead grill or broiler to form a golden crust on top and is traditionally served in its baking dish, a gratin dish.

This recipe pretty much meets that description.  Using just a few key additives to enhance the rather bland flavor of zucchini, it turns out to be wonderfully flavorful.  Pre-broiling the zucchini helps to get them browned, and sprinkling a small amount of Parmesan cheese on top further forms a browned crisp crust.  You can serve this dish hot, but it’s also great at room temperature.

ZUCCHINI AND ONION GRATIN

Yield:  serves 6    ( Note:  1 serving is about 1 cup and equals 92 calories and 7 gm carbs.)

Ingredients:IMG_7565

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1  1/2 pounds zucchini, diagonally sliced into 1/4-inch thick pieces
  • 1 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

Directions:

1.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add onion; cook 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in tomato paste, cook 2 minutes.   Stir in lemon rind, thyme, 1/8 teaspoon salt and  pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Sauté onions and thyme, then add tomato paste and lemon rind.

Sauté onions, then add tomato paste, thyme and lemon rind.

2.  Preheat broiler to high.

3.  Arrange zucchini on a jelly-roll pan.  Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil; toss.  Broil 7 minutes or until lightly charred.  Sprinkle with remaining salt.

Lay zucchini slices out on a baking sheet for broiling.

Lay zucchini slices out on a baking sheet for broiling.

4.  Preheat oven to 375*F.

5.  Spread onion mixture in a 2-quart gratin dish.  Arrange zucchini mixture over onion mixture.  Sprinkle with cheese.  Cover and bake at 375*F. for 25 minutes.  Remove from oven.

Arrange in a baking dish and top with grated cheese.

Arrange in a baking dish and top with grated cheese.

6.  Uncover zucchini mixture; broil 1  1/2 minutes to lightly brown the top if needed.   Note:  I thought mine was adequately browned after baking, so I omitted this step–use your judgement if it’s needed.

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SOURCE:   Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

Grilled Chicken with Spicy B-Q Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Spicy Rhubarb B-Q Sauce

Grilled Chicken with Spicy Rhubarb B-Q Sauce

It was Father’s Day and the grill was hot.  What else do we do but grill out when Father’s Day rolls around.  It was a perfect sunny day, one where you wanted to be outside.  But some things require preparation in the kitchen, so I started them early, allowing me to spend as much time outdoors as possible.  This was going to be a meal to knock-his-socks-off!  I had high expectations that it would turn out fabulous and I’m pleased to report that it was a home run.  It was so good that it will take more than one post to tell you all about it.

Let me start with the main attraction:  the barbecued chicken with a spicy rhubarb B-Q-sauce.  Barbecue sauce is hardly the place where you would expect to find rhubarb, and that’s partly what I love about this tangy-sweet sauce tinged with smoky heat.   Extra sauce can be refrigerated for up to a month.  I am planning on using it on some burgers and pork chops in the very near future.

This is how to make the BBQ sauce.  You can make it well in advance and stick it in the fridge for whenever it is you want to use it.

RHUBARB-BQ SAUCE

Yield:   Makes about 2 cupsIMG_7559

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2  1/4 cups ( 1/2-inch) slices rhubarb
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:

1.  Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring occasionally.

Saute the onion in butter.

Saute the onion and garlic in butter.

Add rhubarb; cook 3 minutes or until rhubarb is translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add in the rhubarb.

Add in the rhubarb.

Add 1/2 cup water, sugar, ketchup, vinegar, chipotle, mustard and salt.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; simmer 6 minutes or until rhubarb is tender.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer.

Add all the other ingredients and simmer.

2.  Place the rhubarb mixture in a blender container.  Remove the center piece of blender lid-to allow steam to escape–secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening in bender lid to avoid splatters.  Blend rhubarb mixture until smooth.

Once blended you will have about 2 cups of sauce.

Once blended you will have about 2 cups of sauce.

Pour into a bowl to cool.  Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.

 

GRILLED CHICKEN WITH SPICY RHUBARB B-Q SAUCE

Yield:  Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skinned (about 2 1/2 pounds)   I used leg quarters.
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • cooking spray
  • 1 cup Rhubarb-BQ Sauce

Directions:

1.  Preheat grill to high heat.

2.  Combine oil and chicken;  toss to coat.  Sprinkle chicken with pepper and salt.  Place chicken on grill rack coated with cooking spray, and grill 6 minutes or until well-marked.    Brush chicken on both sides with B-Q sauce.

Brush with sauce on both sides.

Brush with sauce on both sides.

Continue to cook, turning and brushing with sauce until glossy and browned, about 12 minutes more, or until tender.

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This chicken is ready for Prime Time!

This chicken is ready for Prime Time!

 

SOURCE:    Weeknight Grilling with the BBQ Queens

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon

Comfort Foods!  Just those two words bring to mind certain foods that we grew up with, or crave at one time or another.  Maybe you’ve had a bad day, and just want a familiar meal that you know you love.  Perhaps it’s mid-winter, freezing cold, and you want something to eat that feels like being wrapped up in a warm quilt.  Or you just broke up with your boyfriend, best friend, or had to have a pet “put to sleep”.  You want food that will make you feel better, if that’s possible.  Food that gives you comfort is naturally called “comfort food”.

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Well, here’s a question that I’ve been pondering;  do you crave comfort foods in hot weather?  Aren’t comfort foods warm foods that give you a “warm fuzzy”?  I can’t think of any cold foods that do that, and in hot weather don’t we usually want cold foods to cool us off, so where do comfort foods fit in?

That is the dilemma I faced last week.  The weekend had served up warm, sunny days in the mid to high 80’s.  It was hot, we ate salads!   Come Monday, the temperature is in the 60’s, and its raining, cold and damp outside.  Then I go for my dance lesson, where every move I make gets corrected, and I can’t seem to do anything right.  (That’s an exaggeration, but it felt that way).  And to top it all off, I forgot to take something out of the freezer for dinner.  Does this day qualify for a comfort meal?  I thought it did.

This recipe for a variation on Mac and Cheese is my solution to wanting, no needing, something comforting to eat, but little time to prepare it, so let’s call this “Quick Comfort Broccoli Mac and Cheese with Bacon”.  Even though the calendar tells us it’s late spring or early summer, this dish was perfect for my needs.  And Mr. D.  loved it too, saying it was fabulous, and “hit the spot”.

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Note:  included here is a trick I learned at one time:  a little bit of turmeric enhances the color, making you perceive the sauce as cheesier than it actually is.  It adds no additional flavor of its own, it’s only there for color, so if it’s not in your cupboard, just omit it and use a yellow cheddar cheese.

BROCCOLI MAC AND CHEESE WITH BACON

Yield:  Serves 4IMG_7492

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounces uncooked large or regular elbow macaroni
  • 3 cups prechopped broccoli florets
  • 3 bacon slices, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric (optional)
  • 1 cup 1 % low-fat milk
  • 1 jar Alfredo Sauce with cheese
  • 1 1/4 cups sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Directions:

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions, adding a little salt to the water.  Add broccoli to pan during last 2 minutes of cooking.  Drain.

Add broccoli to end of pasta cooking time.

Add broccoli to end of pasta cooking time.

2.  While pasta cooks, place bacon in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat;  cook 4 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally.  Remove bacon from pan with a slotted spoon.  Reserve 1 1/2 teaspoons drippings in the pan.  Add chopped garlic and the turmeric, if using.  Cook 1 minute, stirring throughout.

3.  Combine the milk with the Alfredo sauce, stirring with a whisk to blend well. Add to skillet with garlic, and mix together.  Bring to a simmer, and add 3/4 cup shredded cheese.  Stir to melt and blend in the cheese, stir in half the bacon.  Taste sauce and add salt and pepper if needed.

Making the cheese sauce with Alfredo sauce.

Making the cheese sauce with Alfredo sauce.

4.  Add the drained pasta and broccoli,  toss to coat.  Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup cheese and remaining bacon over the top.

Add macaroni and broccoli to cheese.

Add macaroni and broccoli to cheese sauce.

Preheat the broiler to high.   Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts and just begins to brown.  If time allows,  this dish could be baked for about 30 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the top a little browned.

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Broccoli Mac and Cheese served with a salad.

Broccoli Mac and Cheese served with a salad.

 

SOURCE:   a Carolyn’s Originals

 

 

Grapefruit Buttermilk Doughnuts with Candied Zest

Graperfuit Buttermilk Doughnuts

Graperfuit Buttermilk Doughnuts

It was only after the fact that I learned that National Doughnut day had come and gone.  But that’s alright, I probably wouldn’t have paid any attention to it anyway.  I honestly never pay much attention to any of these so-called special days because there are so many of them, every single day it’s something, and often more than one something per day.

Who designates these special days anyhow?  No one has ever asked me what I think, or if I have a favorite food that I would like to honor with it’s own special day.  If anyone can get in on the act offering random suggestions for dedicated days, then I can do it too. Mine would be much more specific like— mulch the flower beds day, or skip work and go for a drive day, or lets’s get our nails done and then go out for lunch day, or put on some good music and dance day.  As you can see my days have a lot more to do in them than just eating one type of food… they’re more about movement and action and getting things done.  That’s the kind of gal I am.

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Anyway, having gotten that off my chest,  here’s a recipe for making doughnuts that are just the tiniest bit healthy because they are baked instead of fried.  I don’t know anyone who makes their own fried doughnuts, do you?  I think everybody and their mother hates deep frying foods, and that definitely includes me.   If the thought even crosses your mind, think of your thighs and reconsider!!   One impulsive act like frying doughnuts can undo weeks of careful eating, and hopefully weight loss, so get a grip on yourself.

Tiniest bit healthy baked doughnuts!!

Tiniest bit healthy baked doughnuts!!

Thank heavens these doughnuts require NO fryer.  They’re easy to make and they turn out light and cake-like. They require only one specialized pan; a doughnut pan that is generally inexpensive.  When I bought mine I thought I would never use it, but I’m finding myself using it more and more.  One little trick that I do with mine, is pour muffin batter in it and bake them.  You will get a shallow muffin, like muffin tops with a hole in the middle.  Think of it as a weight loss tactic; smaller muffin with a hole in the middle=less calories!   What you see in the above photo that looks like muffins is actually the remainder of the doughnut batter that I baked in a muffin pan.  I call them Douffins 🙂

Mr D. called these doughnuts “fabulous” and I have to agree with him.  I love the bits of tartness that the grapefruit zest adds to the flavor, and the grapefruit juice in the glaze keeps it all from becoming too sweet.  Making the candied zest is very easy to do, and now that I’ve done it, I would try it with other citrus fruits and use the candied zest as a garnish or topping on other baked goods.  Try this, it adds just the perfect touch.

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GRAPEFRUIT BUTTERMILK DOUGHNUTS WITH CANDIED ZEST

Yield:   1 dozen doughnuts  (I got 12 doughnuts plus 4 douffins)

Ingredients:

  • non-stick cooking sprayIMG_7533
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • zest of 1 large grapefruit, plus 4 two-inch long strips grapefruit zest thinly sliced
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons grapefruit juice

Directions:

1.  Coat 2  six-cavity doughnut pans with nonstick spray.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Meanwhile in a large bowl, combine flour, 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, and salt, and mix well.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg, canola oil, vanilla, and zest of 1 grapefruit to combine.

Mix wet ingredients together.

Mix wet ingredients together.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir.  Spoon batter into the prepared pans, filling each cavity a little more than three-quarters.

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3.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes.  Let cool in pan for 5 minutes, then turn doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

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4.  In a small bowl, whisk confectioners’ sugar and juice until smooth.  Set glaze aside.  In a small saucepan, combine zest strips, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 3 tablespoons water, and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer mixture until sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes.   Drain, and discard the liquid.  Immediately toss the zest strips in the remaining sugar until coated.  Transfer to a cutting board and chop.

After cooking, coat zest strips in sugar.

After cooking, coat zest strips in sugar.

 

Chopped sugared zest into small pieces.

Chop sugared zest into small pieces.

5.  For each doughnut, carefully dip the top in the glaze, then set on a wire rack, glaze side up, so excess drips off.  Sprinkle immediately with chopped zest.

 

Dip tops into glaze, sprinkle with zest.

Dip tops into glaze, sprinkle with zest.

 

These are unbelievably good.

These are unbelievably good.

 

SOURCE:   Country Living Magazine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Chip Coconut Mounds

Chocolate Chip Coconut Mounds

Chocolate Chip Coconut Mounds

A bake sale table is always an inviting sight. All those assorted cakes, cookies, pies, breads and bars just begging to be taken home. Everything looks so good they practically sell themselves.

Bake sale items, by definition, are lovingly homemade in the same way as baked goods auctioned off at church suppers, or judged at country fairs.  They are the real deal, no fillers, no ingredients to prolong shelf life, or strange chemicals you can’t pronounce.

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The recipe I have for you today is a bake sale favorite that contains chocolate chips, flaked coconut, and chopped walnuts.  Probably  the chocolate chips alone would be enough to entice most people, but add in the coconut and nuts, and they become chock full of true blue flavor and goodness.IMG_7483

I made these recently to bring to an end of the year picnic event.  They disappeared “quick as a wink”.  Give these chunky cookies a try for your family or the next time you’re asked to bake for a bake sale.  They are really good!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COCONUT MOUNDS

Yield:  About 2  1/2  dozen cookies

Ingredients:IMG_7472

  • 1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 5 tablespoons cake flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons ( 1 stick plus 2 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons hot water
  • 2  1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (lightly packed) sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

Directions:

1.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.

2.  In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter for 2 – 3 minutes on low speed.  Add the light brown sugar and beat for 30 seconds on moderate speed; add the granulated sugar and beat for 30 seconds longer.  Beat in the egg.  Blend in the hot water and vanilla extract.

3.  Add the flour in thirds, mixing well after each addition.  Remove the bowl from the beater, and stir in the coconut, chips and nuts.

Stir in chips, coconut and nuts.

Stir in chips, coconut and nuts.

Chill the dough, covered with plastic wrap, for 30 minutes.  Can leave longer if necessary, up to 48 hours.  No need to bring to room temperature prior to baking.

4.  In advance of baking, preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Drop dough in mounds of approximately 2 tablespoon size, leaving 1  1/2 inches  between cookies.  A cookie scoop helps to form uniformly sized cookies.

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5.  Bake the cookies for 12 – 14 minutes, or until just set and light golden here and there around the edges and golden in spots on top.  Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 10 minutes, then transfer them to cooling racks, using a wide spatula.  Store the cookies in an airtight container, or pack in food-safe containers or bags for sale.

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A little chewy, a little crunchy, totally good!

A little chewy, a little crunchy, totally good!

 

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SOURCE:  A Country Baking Treasury by Lisa Yockelson, via Chocolatier Magazine

Orange Beef and Broccoli

Orange Beef and Broccoli

Orange Beef and Broccoli

On rare occasions we like to order Chinese take-out, and one of our favorite dishes is beef and broccoli.  The rice comes separate and I can limit or not take any rice if I choose not to, so I feel this is probably one of the healthier entrees that is available.

With this recipe I’m woking (pun intended) a little on the wild side, because I haven’t attempted to make this dish before now.  I don’t own a wok as the recipe suggests using, but any large heavy skillet will do fine.  The most time consuming aspect of the recipe is preparing the ingredients.  Have everything chopped, sliced, measured and ready to go before you start cooking, because once you turn on the heat, the cooking goes quickly.

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Orange rind and five-spice powder flavor the dish with sweet notes that are countered by a hit of red pepper’s heat.  Decrease the pepper for anyone who would prefer to walk on the mild side.  Serve rice on the side.

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I’m really enjoying using the asian seasonings I’ve acquired and now making use of.  They provide salty, sweet, sour, and spicy flavors.   Some essential basic ingredients that you might consider for your pantry are:  Siracha, a spicy chile sauce that saves you the time of working with fresh chiles;  brown sugar, an easy way to add instant caramel notes and some sweetness; lower-sodium soy sauce that provides deep umami notes;  dark sesame oil, intensely tasty oil that coats food with savory richness;  and rice vinegar, more mellow than most vinegars, only a splash brings flavors into balance.

Some basic seasonings for asian cooking.

Some basic seasonings for asian cooking.

ORANGE BEEF AND BROCCOLIIMG_7299

Yield:    serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound flank steak, trimmed  ( I used a strip steak)
  • 3/4 teaspoon five-spice powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, divided
  • 2 cups small broccoli florets
  • 1  1/2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 8 (1-inch) strips orange rindIMG_7301
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup unsalted beef broth
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium so sauce
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions (garnish)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds (garnish)
  • 1 package precooked white rice such as Uncle Ben’s

Directions:

1.  Sprinkle steak evenly with five-spice powder, black pepper and salt.   Heat a large wok or skillet over high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon peanut oil to the pan; swirl to coat.  Add steak;  cook 4 minutes on each side or until browned.  Remove steak from pan; let stand 5 minutes.  Cut steak across grain into thin slices.

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2.  Return pan to high heat.  Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, swirl.  Add broccoli, onion, rind, and garlic; stir-fry 3 minutes or until lightly browned.

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Combine broth and next 6 ingredients (through red pepper) in a bowl stirring with a whisk.  Add stock mixture to pan; cook 1 minute or until slightly thickened.

3.  To serve, spoon some rice onto a plate, top with 3/4 cup broccoli mixture and 3 ounces beef.  Sprinkle evenly with green onions and sesame seeds.

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SOURCE:   Cooking Light

 

A Fork in the Road

When I began this blog two and a half years ago, I had no real sense of how it would unfold, but after reading other bloggers I follow, I decided to post five days a week.  Having reached 550 posts and 30,450 hits in that time I proved to myself I could do it, and in that time I also garnered 349 followers–thank you one and all.

I have every intention of continuing to write, but have decided its time to cut back a little.  As many of you who blog know, each draft takes about 2 – 3 hours with the actual cooking, photography, writing, editing and indexing.  Much of this takes place on the weekend when I do all those tasks plus set up a queue of drafts to be published in the week ahead.  This doesn’t leave me much time for anything else.

I’ve enjoyed all of this immensely, and one 0f the best parts is hearing from so many of you through your comments.

In August, I will be entering another dance competition.  So I have only two months to get myself in good condition with exercise and training.  I’ll be spending more time at the dance studio and need to stay focused.  I also have some other projects I want to spend some time on.

You will certainly continue to get posts from me, but with less regularity and I may broaden the scope of the blog to include some other things that I do and that interest me.

Thanks for sticking with me and I’ll be “talking” with you soon.