Saturday, December 31, 2011

Skillet Chicken with Cranberries and Apples

December 30th---and what a month it has been! Does any time go as fast as during those thirty-one days of December?

I am sitting at the computer, looking outside on a lovely, late-December day. The sun has already begun to dip behind trees covering the hills to the west even though it’s barely 4pm, and the thermometer read 54 degrees when I walked by the window last. We’re in southwestern Pennsylvania, so this cannot last. But it is a nice gift.

That’s what my Mom called it this morning. She phoned and told me that she took “this gift of a day” and went for a nice, long walk. Having broken her ankle last summer, and become increasingly frustrated with limping and pain throughout the fall, this past month she finally got back into her walking routine. When the weather is decent, about two miles a day (as far as I can figure out) and I applaud her. Although I cringe at the thought of her out on country lanes, walking on the edge of the road, and I only wish that she would get her act together and locate some of the flashing devices I have bought her in the past few years to wear so that she can be safe. Are you listening, Mummy????

I am being forced to sit and be quiet and wait out the last days of a fairly nasty asthma attack that began on Christmas Eve day. I have spent several hours combing through my cooking and baking notes (dating from September!) and realize how hopelessly behind I am. There just isn’t enough time in the day for everything.

I have a photo, and nailed the recipe, for a wonderful linguine with white clam sauce. I’ve seen the scribbled recipe floating around the kitchen for a couple of months now and, of course, since I have the time to post I cannot seem to locate it. Perhaps next time.

Next up, a photo from several weeks ago and I know where that recipe is. Online. Safe in the Eating Well website.

Skillet Chicken with Cranberries and Apples was, as I recall, my attempt at trying to cook a quick dinner but to also make something new and different. It fit the bill perfectly.

Skillet Chicken with Cranberries & Apples

From EatingWell: September/October 2011

Celebrate the flavors of fall with chicken cooked in a fast apple-cranberry sauce. If you prefer a less tart flavor, try dried cranberries instead of fresh. Serve with quick-cooking wild rice and roasted Brussels sprouts.

4 servings, about 1 1/4 cups each | Active Time: 20 minutes | Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 pound chicken tenders, trimmed and cut in half on the diagonal
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 2 crisp red apples, such as Braeburn, Fuji or Gala, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red onion, quartered and sliced
  • 3/4 cup apple cider or apple juice, divided
  • 1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen (thawed)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour


  1. Sprinkle both sides of chicken tenders with 1/4 teaspoon each thyme, salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add the chicken. Cook, stirring, until lightly browned on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a clean plate.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the pan. Add apples, onion, 2 tablespoons cider (or juice) and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each thyme and salt. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring often, until the apples and onion are softened, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cranberries and sprinkle flour over everything in the pan; cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Return the chicken to the pan and pour in the remaining cider (or juice). Cover and cook, stirring once or twice, until the sauce has thickened and the chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes more.


Per serving : 287 Calories; 10 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 63 mg Cholesterol; 26 g Carbohydrates; 24 g Protein; 4 g Fiber; 496 mg Sodium; 415 mg Potassium

2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1 1/2 fruit, 1 vegetable, 3 lean meat, 1 1/2 fat

I cut boneless skinless chicken breasts in pieces instead of using chicken tenders, but otherwise prepared the original recipe as written. It took so little time to make that I had to hold it in the pan for several minutes while the pilaf finished cooking. The chicken was tender, the tart cranberries a very nice contrast to the sweet apple, and there were a lot of pan juices which soaked into the multigrain pilaf wonderfully. I also served mashed sweet potatoes, and the dinner was a hit. Very warming, and flavorful, and healthy. In fact, this will probably be our dinner this evening.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Triple Ginger Bars

I spent the day in the kitchen today, my favorite way to spend time. :)

I made cornbread, then cornbread dressing; also vanilla mashed sweet potatoes, and a pumpkin pie. The Brussels sprouts are trimmed and ready to roast, the hazelnuts toasted and chopped to be sprinkled on top before serving. Pumpkin scones, for Friday's breakfast, are in the freezer. We're all ready to take our part of the feast to our friend's house tomorrow.

At the last minute, I decided to make Triple Ginger Bars which are featured in the November 2011 issue of Better Homes & Gardens. Even though loaded with butter, I made the recipe according to the directions because it's a holiday! Anyway, for some reason the cake sunk quite badly in the center. Then the glaze was poured over. It cascaded down the edges and puddled in the center. As the glaze cooled, I tried to pull it up over to the edges and was only moderately successful. At a last desperate attempt to cover the wrinkled glaze and salvage the bars, I covered the surface with ground, toasted hazelnuts.

It worked, somewhat. After cutting, some of the bars had the distinct contours of a beginner ski-slope.

Oh well, I shall serve them with the best side facing outward.

Despite their appearance, these were really good. You have to like ginger a lot to appreciate them, though, because they are just filled with that nippy spice. I didn't have any fresh ginger, so I subbed 3 Tablespoons of finely-chopped crystallized ginger. Very good. I just don't know what I did wrong that would cause them fall in the center, and because of that I probably will not make them again.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Reynolds Wrap Pan Lining Paper

Yesterday my friend Jenni joined me in our Holiday Baking Day and we cranked out several dozen of each of 7 varieties of cookies. :) I hope to get them all posted in the next week or so.

But this post is a warning.

I bought Reynolds Wrap Pan Liner Paper because I couldn't find plain ol' parchment and it was horrible. The edges of the paper curled up and over and embedded themselves in the baked goods on the edges of the cookie sheet.

For another recipe, the parchment was to go over the edge of the pan to facilitate removal of the bars. The "pan lining paper" curled up and over and into the bars on two sides. Note the ridges on the bottom pan after removing the paper:

My husband didn't mind because he then got to eat the imperfect cookies/ bars. I minded because these are for gift trays/ baskets and I couldn't use them since they were not pretty.

Just a warning! I'll be returning the amount not used. :(

Monday, November 14, 2011

Restoring old wood windows, and not cooking...

Somehow, cooking has become lost for me lately since our autumn has been so very busy. Poor Jack has had so many dinners of grilled chicken breasts with whatever sauce I had in the refrigerator, some veggies, and a baked potato that I do not need to write about my cooking. Yes, there are a few times in the past several weeks where I actually had the time to make a decent dinner, but these were few and also were already-tried recipes that I have previously posted.

We don’t eat much prepared food and I was at a loss as to what to buy to make meals easier. I did purchase a veggie lasagna at TJs but have yet to try it. I can only thank Trader Joe and his barbeque sauces, Indian simmer sauces, and items like butternut squash ravioli, frozen roasted corn and frozen roasted bell pepper & onion combos. At least I wasn’t opening a can of corn.

I shall blog today about windows, because that is what has consumed my time over the past weeks. We live in a 144-year-old home that is constructed of brick and has the original wooden windows. Can anyone think of a more energy-inefficient type of window, other than a single sheet of plastic wrap? No? I didn’t think so. But Jack is an architect, and he is very preservation-minded, so replacing the original wooden windows with nice, tight, energy-efficient ones was not even considered. Yes, we would rather freeze than compromise on our historical home!

Well, no, not me but I had to go along with it. And build up a nice collection of heavy sweaters and thick blankets.

Many years ago, when I was much younger and full of energy (*sigh*), I worked my way around this large house, repairing windows, replacing broken or cracked glass, scraping and painting, and caulking the he** out of each window. They are as energy-efficient as they can be under the circumstances (and those are the circumstances of historical preservation).

Alas, even though I bought the “best” paint and the “best” of the other materials, I will never be done with keeping these windows looking decent. Every fall, depending on time available, I get to work on the windows.

This year, another job had been added. We have a huge barn (this used to be a dairy farm, even after 30 years the inside of the barn smells faintly of cows. Not a bad thing at all.), and a contractor arrived to replace part of the roof that was damaged in a storm last winter. The barn is set away from the house, and not very visible from the house because of the trees, so I’ve not paid much attention to it in the last few years because it’s basically a grossly oversized storage unit. But once the roof was replaced (and looking very nice) and new windows are going to be installed in the very-high dormers, I looked critically at the windows on the barn ground level and was dismayed at the shape they were in. Window panes were missing and boarded over, sills rotting, a couple of the windows were literally falling out of the clay tile blocks which surrounded them. So we asked the contractor to price replacing all of the windows. He could not find an inexpensive replacement window that Jack approved of, and the best he could come up with were vinyl windows that would have cost us $8000. For the barn. The storage barn!

I don’t know why I didn’t expect this, but Jack then suggested that perhaps I restore the barn windows.

Initially, as we stood in the barnyard looking at the worst side of windows, I considered throwing something at him; perhaps a chunk of tile that had fallen from underneath a rotting windowsill. But I resisted the urge and considered the cost savings. In addition to my very valuable time, a couple of gallons of paint, a case or two of caulk, a huge bottle of wood-glue would be all that would be necessary to preserve these windows for a little while longer. And we could use that $8000 for more visible restoration work around our home. So I began.

Three weeks later I have completed 6 of the very worst of the windows. Because I worked though our lovely Indian summer, even though we will have a couple of days here and there in the next few weeks that will be warm-ish and dry, I have quit until Spring. There is holiday stuff to plan and do!

Here is a closeup of one of the worst windows, a day or two into the process (I didn’t start taking photos right away). The broken panes had been removed, the muntins repaired or replaced, the loose paint scraped off:

And several days afterward replacing and glazing the glass panes, caulking, priming and painting with the resulting "new" window. I should have cleaned the glass but that was extra work, not necessary, and it is a barn. ;)

I’m obviously not a carpenter. Rebuilding those little “muntins” between the glass panes was, well, a pain. But they look nice, and I can only hope that they will not deteriorate too much before we are able to sell this place to a nice, historically-sensitive person who will use the barn for more than storage and will love the farm as we do. Then Jack and I can move to the retirement condo where I will have a large kitchen with brand-spanking new appliances and a small yard. There are some days where I feel as though this cannot happen soon enough!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lentil and Brown Rice Stew with Chicken

Well, the frost really is on the pumpkin now! It seems as though it were only 5 days ago that I was outside painting in a short-sleeve t-shirt, but yesterday morning was our first heavy frost and this morning there were snow showers.

How very cool the feathery stalks of the decorative grass look when coated with frost!

My entire focus on food has shifted in the past couple of weeks, and I now plan warming meals. Especially since we just got our furnace repaired yesterday and we’ve been waking in a bedroom with mid-50’s temps. Brrr.

The other day I made stock from the carcass of a chicken that I roasted for dinner the evening before. I used it today to make a very thick, warm, satisfying stew for lunch. Jack isn’t a big fan of lentils, although I love them, and I put both lentils and chicken into the stew although the lentils and brown rice were the main ingredients (kind of a lentil stew seasoned with chicken).

This stew is a protein-fiber powerhouse with less than 450 calories in a 1-1/2 cup serving.

I harvested a lot of hot peppers from the garden last week-orange habanero, chocolate habanero, and red cherry:

And I added one of the smaller orange habanero peppers, chopped very finely, to the stew. Those are darn hot peppers! The stew was up at the higher level of my heat tolerance, but for the first time that day I felt warm. :)

* Exported from MasterCook *

Lentil and Brown Rice Stew with Chicken

Recipe By: Vicci

Servings : 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 1/2 ounces carrots -- chopped, about 1-2/3 cups

4 ounces onions -- chopped, about 1 cup

2 3/4 ounces celery -- minced, about 3/4 cup

1 large garlic clove -- minced

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

8 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 teaspoons dried thyme

2 whole bay leaves

1/2 cup brown rice

1 cup lentils -- brown lentils preferred

6 ounces zucchini or yellow squash -- chopped, about 2 cups

1 cup frozen, shelled edamame -- thawed

8 ounces cooked chicken breast halves -- chopped

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

In a large Dutch oven, warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and lower the heat a little, Stir often until the veggies have softened, about 8 minutes. Increase the heat back to medium and sprinkle in the flour; stir constantly for a minute.

Pour in the chicken broth slowly, stirring quickly to avoid any lumps. Add the thyme and bay leaves and bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the lentils and brown rice, stir well, and turn down the heat to medium-low. Cover partially and allow to cook for 40 minutes, stirring often.

Add the chopped zucchini and continue to cook for an additional 10 minutes. Stir in the edamame and chicken and cook until the chicken is heated through and the rice and lentils are tender. Season with freshly ground pepper, and stir in parsley.


"9 cups"

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Per serving: 437 Calories (kcal); 11g Total Fat (2g saturated); (21% calories from fat); 41g Protein; 47g Carbohydrate; 26mg Cholesterol; 744mg Sodium; Dietary Fiber 14g

Food Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain(Starch); 3 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Note: I will add chopped mushrooms the next time, and perhaps some frozen peas—this is a great recipe to clean out the bits & pieces of frozen veggies in the freezer!

Well, no photo. I downloaded it, saved it somewhere (I'm certain that I did!) and then erased it from my memory card. If I remember, I'll try again with the leftovers tomorrow. Yeesh.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Although the days are becoming cooler and most of the garden produce is only a (lovely) memory, I am still fortunate enough to have a zucchini and a yellow squash plant that are still producing.

The other evening I made a delicious mole that was quick and used one of the zucchini from the garden. I searched and found that I had reviewed this Good Housekeeping recipe a year ago, but that I hadn’t added a photo. Well, this year I have that photo. :)

The review and recipe are here, and I added in the photo as well.

I forgot about adding the red bell pepper and the chipotle (if I don’t write it down…), but have now written this on the recipe so I don’t forget next time. And I realize that 2 corn tortillas are considered a “serving”, but with the minimal fat and calories that they contain, we used a few extra because sopping up the rich sauce with the tortillas is just so very good.

Okay, since I got off easy for that post, I will add a new recipe to this one.

I haven’t been cooking a lot lately because I am busy getting work done on the outside of our house before cold weather arrives. We will have a span of a few days of nice weather where I spend most of my day painting, and every few days there is a rainy day or two where I can work inside. Yesterday was one of those days, and instead of painting the inside of the window frames as planned (I am so sick and tired of painting!), I decided to spend a few hours in the kitchen.

My Dad gave me a pumpkin from his garden when we visited last month, so I decided to warm up the kitchen by roasting it for pumpkin soup.

By far, the most difficult part of this recipe is cutting and peeling the pumpkin. You need a very sharp knife, a large cutting board, and a large bowl for the peel and the insides. I cut the pumpkin *almost* in half vertically (just to one side of the stem). That is the most difficult part. Then I cut the pumpkin into slices, scoop out the seeds, and peel each piece. It took me about a half hour to prepare 4 pounds of pumpkin.

After that, it’s a breeze. Toss the pumpkin chunks along with onions, garlic, thyme, and olive oil and roast for about a half hour. Near the end of that time, bring the stock to a boil, add the cooked veggies, simmer for 10 minutes, and puree. I love my hand blender for jobs like this! It is over 20 years old and is taped (and injury which happened after falling out of the dish drainer years ago), but works great.

Some milk is added (would this make it a bisque rather than a soup?), and garnished with plain lowfat yogurt. Too late, I realized that a sprinkling of smoked paprika would have been a great addition.

Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Makes about 9 cups


4 pounds pumpkin, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

2 medium onions, cut into 8 pieces each

3 large garlic colves, peeped and halved

1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

freshly ground black pepper and kosher salt to taste

32 ounces chicken or veggie stock

1 cup lowfat milk

Plain lowfat yogurt

Smoked paprika (or ground dried chipotle, if desired)

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss pumpkin, onions and thyme in oil and spread mixture onto 2 large baking sheets.

Season with salt and pepper and roast for 25 to 35 minutes until tender, stirring every ten minutes or so.

Toward the end of the roasting time, heat the stock in a large pot. Remove veggies from oven and transfer to a large pot. Add broth, wine and cardamom and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth (or, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender or food processor until smooth, then transfer back to pot). Bring soup back to a simmer. Remove from heat and whisk in milk.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with plain nonfat yogurt, sprinkle with smoked paprika or ground chipotle pepper if you like some heat.

(Shown in the photo are twisted whole wheat biscuits which, after another try or two and a few more tweaks, will be in a future post)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Panko-Crusted Cusk

I have neglected this blog for far too long. It was a very hot, and busy, summer with not much desire or opportunity to try new recipes and post them. Well, actually, the posting was the main problem. I do have photos in my camera showing some of the more interesting recipes that I prepared, but the heat and humidity usually thwarted my efforts to write any semblance of an interesting review.

Well, that ended this week. The heat and humidity, I mean. We returned home from vacation to cool weather, turning leaves, rain. My house remains decorated with bright pastel colors and jars of seashells and other summery décor but, as soon as I have caught up on clearing out the flower beds and garden of their dying plants and unpacking, I will need to start the autumn routine of breaking down the back porch, cleaning the chair cushions and pillows, and covering the furniture; storing those summery decorations now on the tables and mantles, shutting down the goldfish pond, and (what really proves that summer is over), packing up all of my orange and yellow Fiestaware and swapping it with the red and black dishes which we use during the fall and winter. *sigh*

Last night I made meatloaf with boiled new potatoes and green beans (from my Dad’s garden). A good autumn meal for a cool and drizzly fall evening. But let’s go back a few days and remember a very tasty part of our summer vacation.

Before leaving the Massachusetts coast, we stopped by our favorite fresh fish store. I bought lobster to take to my parents for lobster rolls and a large piece of a fish, previous to this trip unknown to us, called cusk. The fishmonger had told us, way back when we arrived at our vacation rental and went to find something to make for dinner, that cusk tasted like catfish. We bought a piece and enjoyed it so much that I made it several times during our stay.

It’s a pretty awful name, isn’t it? Cusk . If pathagonian toothfish could magically turn into Chilean sea bass, why can’t those people who rename fish do something similar to bump up the image of the poor cusk? This is a fish species that lives in the waters of the northern Atlantic, off the coast of the New England states.

What we enjoyed most about cusk was that it resembled cod, and was almost as firm-fleshed as cod, but the taste was sweet, close to catfish. Our favorite way to enjoy cusk is a very simple one.

I soak the cusk in milk, turning often, for about 15-20 minutes. Panko crumbs, granulated garlic, thyme, paprika, s & p, and chili powder is mixed on a plate. I heat a nonstick pan and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of light olive oil into it. The fish is then removed from the milk, covered with the crumb mixture (pressing it firmly into the fish), and placed in the hot pan. I fry it for about 4 minutes (until the bottom is golden), then spray cooking spray on the top of the fillets before turning. Another 3-4 minutes of cooking, and we have crispy, golden, tender fish fillets for dinner.

This is how I prepared our last fresh-from-Massachusetts dinner, made on a rainy fall evening the day we arrived home. We enjoyed it very much. I wonder if some of the specialty fish shops in Pittsburgh carry cusk? Probably not, but it gives us yet another reason to anticipate our (hopefully) eventual move to the coast of New England.

Panko-crusted cusk (with Trader Joe’s Harvest Grain Blend and fresh beets).

I hope to get back to posting more regularly, now that the craziness of summer are over!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Barbeque Pulled Chicken; Grilled Corn Salad

The heat and humidity has everything around here slowing to a crawl. An early-morning run, some gardening, and hanging out a load of laundry has about done me in !

I run on trails around our property, and this morning I decided that I would start a new routine of getting out early. I prefer to run after I’ve had a meal, in late morning, but the temps were already over 80 when I returned home at 9am. These days, if I don’t get out early, then I don’t do it. And I need to run.

The woods were cool, although a bit on the humid side. I noticed that the wild yarrow is about to bloom, and that means summer is in full swing. The black raspberry bushes are mostly past their prime, but I found a few ripe ones remaining in a shady location. Next up are the blackberries and, if they produce like these raspberries did a couple of weeks ago, I may have to make some jam. And a pie. Looooove blackberry pie! Will need to run a lot more, then…

I found a cute little wildflower and looked it up after arriving home. Downy rattlesnake plantain. Named so because the American Indians used it to treat rattlesnake bites! Anyway, It is growing at the edge of a heavily-wooded trail and I looked around but saw no similar plants so I can’t imagine how it ended up there. The small, dark green leaves heavily veined with white were very noticeable.

From what I have read, the stalk growing from the center will have tiny white flowers. So adorable! Note the poison ivy clustered around it, though. Not so adorable. I am marking it so that I can watch the flower bloom, but since I have read that is rare and shouldn't be collected it will stay in its place.

Back to my run this morning. The woods start about ¼ mile from our house, so when I emerged from them this morning the sun was glaring above the meadow trail that leads home. It was a long trip back to the house, but when I came in the door into the kitchen I was hit with a wonderful aroma.

Eating Well’s BBQ Pulled Chicken is a favorite, and I started it just before leaving earlier. Although most often eaten as a sandwich, we enjoy it spooned over cornbread. I make dry cornbread. :( There’s so much butter or oil in the recipes that taste good, and I usually opt for the less-spectacular lowfat cornbread and use it as a base for something saucy. Or for a stuffing.

I prepared the recipe mostly as is directed; only adding a cornstarch slurry during the final half hour to thicken the sauce. And more chipotle powder, of course.

Barbecue Pulled Chicken

From EatingWell: February/March 2006

This fanciful reinterpretation of pulled pork uses chicken and lots of tomato sauce. Have sliced jalapenos, sliced red onions and some sour cream on hand to top this hearty main course.

8 servings | Active Time: 25 minutes | Total Time: 5 1/2 hours


  • 1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced


  1. Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.
  2. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.


Per serving : 184 Calories; 8 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 3 g Mono; 68 mg Cholesterol; 8 g Carbohydrates; 20 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 257 mg Sodium; 303 mg Potassium

1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Exchanges: 1/2 other carb., 2.5 lean meat

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

My favorite accompaniment to the pulled chicken and cornbread is coleslaw, but today there is no cabbage in the refrigerator. I did find 3 ears of corn, bought a couple of days ago, so I made a grilled corn salad.

Grilled Corn Salad


  • 4 ears of corn, do not shuck (or 2 1/2 cups frozen corn for the non-grill option)
  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 1 5-inch long zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (best if you toast whole cumin seeds then grind)
  • 1/4 cup crumbly salty cheese such as feta or cotija (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp cider vinegar or lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


1 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Oil the grill grates. Rub a little olive oil over the bell pepper. Place the corn (in their husks) and red bell pepper directly on the grill grates. Cover the grill.

Turn corn occasionally, so that every part of the husk is blackened. Turn the red bell pepper occasionally until the skin has blistered up all around it. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.

For the last 5 minutes or so, rub olive oil over the zucchini pieces and place the zucchini pieces directly on the grill grate, cut side down. Turn them over after a few minutes when they have some nice grill marks on them. Let them cook for just a minute or two on the other side.

1a - no grill version Alternatively you can prepare the vegetables on the stove-top. Shuck the corn and use a knife to remove the kernels from the cobs. If you don't have fresh corn, you can easily use frozen. Coat the

bottom of a large, sturdy relatively stick-free (can use cast iron) pan with a little olive oil. Heat the pan to high. Spread out the corn kernels on the pan. If frozen, they will defrost almost immediately. Don't stir them that much, just let them cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to toast. When they get a little browned, remove them from the pan to a bowl. Lay the zucchini pieces on the pan and brown on both sides, do not over cook, remove from pan. The bell pepper does not need to be cooked, it can just be seeded and chopped fine.

2 Let the corn cool down for a few minutes and pull back the husks. Stand the corn husks vertically, tip facing down, in a large shallow bowl or baking dish. Use a sharp knife to make long, downward strokes, removing the kernels from the cob, as you work your way around the cob.

Once the bell pepper has cooled a bit, remove the outer peel. Cut open the pepper, remove the seeds and stem.

Chop the bell pepper into small pieces.

Slice the slightly browned zucchini again lengthwise and chop into small pieces.

3 Place grilled or toasted corn kernels, chopped bell pepper, chopped zucchini, red onion, cilantro, and serrano (if using) into a large bowl. Add the cumin, olive oil, vinegar or lime juice, and crumbly cheese (if using). Mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature. Serves 4.

Simply Recipes

This is the way all fresh corn should be used! It is so fresh and flavorful. I came across this recipe the other day and tried it, even though I already have at least one grilled corn salad recipe in my files. This one was darn good, and I may have to do a comparison and make both recipes the next time I buy fresh corn. I used lime juice instead of vinegar, and a jalapeno subbed for the Serrano (although, while chopping the jalapeno, I remembered that I did have a Serrano chili in the refrigerator. Somewhere.) . I also didn’t have zucchini. And I left out the cheese (intentionally, I’ve just been eating too much recently!).

I pulled the silk out of the tops of the ears of corn, and took off the loose husks. My grill registered 400F, and I

cooked the ears of corn for a total of 12 minutes, turning every 3 minutes. A few times I plucked off charred husks that had become loose.

The corn and bell pepper near the end of the process:

The peeled corn. I was surprised that, even though the outer husks were black, the corn kernels weren't. But they did have a very nice smoky flavor.

This would be an excellent side not only for the pulled chicken, but it would be great with any grilled food. I will, at some point this summer, try adding chicken for a cold main dish that would make this perfect for a picnic. The addition of black beans would also be quite good, but since I no longer seem to be able to eat black beans without repercussions, I will merely suggest that addition.

I am watching birds splashing themselves silly in our pond. One little sparrow seems to be having a particularly wonderful time. Dark clouds, however, are gathering in the west so it looks as though I need to get outside and take the clothes from the line. 92 degrees. With any luck the rain will cool things down a bit, but will probably only add more humidity into the atmosphere. Today is truly a Rosanna Rosannadanna hair day!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Thai Grilled Chicken Noodle Salad

Two posts in 24 hours. Quite the feat! But this is an addendum to yesterday's post. I used the Thai grilled chicken in a salad and it was quite awesome. :)

No recipe. I mixed rice noodles with slivered snap peas, shredded carrot, sliced scallions, and juilenned cucumbers with some of the dipping sauce. I divided this between 2 plates, added the sliced chicken, and drizzled more dressing, then sprinkled with chopped Thai basil. After the photo was taken, I sprinkled the salad with copped peanuts (which was a great idea).

I think that, next time, I will add some slivered red bell pepper.

The chicken was such a great recipe, there will be many more "next time"s!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Big Al's Thai Grilled Chicken

Well, long time no post… wow, almost 5 months?!? As “they” say—stuff happens. :) Busy stuff, crazy stuff, time-flying-by-at-the-speed-of-light stuff.

Tonight, however, I made something for dinner that was just too awesome not to share. Shoot, it may be another couple of months before I can post again so let’s make this a good one!

I was looking for some new “grill recipes” and found a small booklet which came with our (awesome) Broilmaster grill a few years ago. As I leafed through the recipes, I came across one called Big Al’s Thai Grilled Chicken. I am not sure just who Big Al is, but if this recipe is any indication of what the rest of them are like, I will have to refer to this little book often this summer.

Not sure, though, if I’m ready to make yeasty sticky buns on the grill, though!

Here’s the original recipe. I made a variation (using boneless, skinless chicken breasts and serving differently), which I will describe afterward.

Big Al’s Thai Grilled Chicken
Serves 8
From Grilling with Broilmaster

5 T Asian fish sauce
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup canned coconut milk
2 T lime juice
2 T five-spice powder
2 T soy sauce
1 T crushed dried asian chilies
1 T curry powder
2 whole chickens, about 3 pounds each, quartered

hot cooked rice for 8

1 red onion, peeled and chopped
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
8 large butter lettuce leaves

Dipping Sauce:

1 ½ cups rice wine vinegar
¾ cup sugar
2 T minced garlic
1 T red Vietnamese chili sauce


Combine the fish sauce through the curry powder in a large plastic container; then add the chicken. Turn every 12 hours for 2 days.

Prepare the dipping sauce at least 2 hours in advance. Strain before using.

Preheat the grill to high and sear the chicken for about 2 minutes per side. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, turning and basting as needed, until the juices run clear when pierced with a fork (about 20 minutes).

Serve with the rice, onion, tomatoes, and cucumbers on a large leaf of butter lettuce with dipping sauce.

Okay, first I’m not big on prepping whole chickens. And since we don’t really like dark meat, there’s a lot of waste. So I decided to use chicken breast, and had a bag of chicken tenders in the freezer.

I used 1-1/2 pounds of chicken tenders and halved the marinade ingredients. I used soy milk and ¼ teaspoon of coconut extract instead of the coconut milk (since I only needed 2 tablespoons, I didn’t want to open a can). I marinated the chicken tenders for 3 hours, and did not baste the chicken while it cooked since I didn’t need to sear it then cook for a long time (they took about 7 minutes to cook at a medium-high heat).

For the dipping sauce, I made 1/3 recipe and could have used more. I subbed sambal oelek for the chili sauce.

Now, for serving. My Bibb lettuce is still small, so we ended up piling the lettuce on our plates, topping with the chicken tenders, then cukes, tomatoes (I forgot the onion), and sauce. I added a large sprinkling of Thai basil as well, and that (IMO) really made the dish.

Excellent, wonderful, stupendous meal! Very flavorful, very pretty to look at, and a definite repeater for this summer.

I made enough chicken for 2 more meals, and one will be lunch tomorrow. I plan to slice the chicken and serve it with rice noodles, chopped red pepper, chopped cuke, hoping to remember the onion (scallions, actually), and a sprinkling of peanuts as well as the Thai basil. And that delicious sauce.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Potatoes and Poblanos

Okay, the title leaves much to be desired. :) I adapted a recipe from Cuisine at Home which was found in Issue 85 Potato-Stuffed Poblanos. But I took the easy way out. My garden gave me a lot of poblano peppers last fall, and I roasted, peeled, seeded, and froze the lot for future use. Since the peppers now couldn't be stuffed, I chose to layer them with the potato mixture.

And, being me, I looked at the nutritional info on the bottom of the recipe and cringed a bit at the 26g of fat in each serving. So I made some changes. I decreased the amount of cheese slightly, and used Cabot's light cheddar; I eliminated the cream cheese and added more (light) sour cream and skim milk. I also made a few changes in the seasonings as well. The final recipe came through MasterCook at 7g total fat and I was skeptical so I recalculated, but it seems to be the correct numbers. Okay, so you who regularly use full-fat diary and have made this before may notice the substitutions of the light cheese and the light sour cream but we thought this recipe was delicious. I do keep a package of grated sharp (full fat!) cheddar in the freezer to use in small amounts where I think that the extra cheese flavor would be nice, and in this recipe I sprinkled a mere tablespoon of that on the potato mixture along with the lowfat cheddar before baking and I think that it really added a nice cheesy “punch”. Excellent!

For the side, I used the accompanying recipe from CAH and subbed Mexican oregano for the epazote, and added halved grape tomatoes. Oh, I also decreased the black beans (*sigh*) and increased the corn (Trader Joe's Frozen Roasted Corn).

A note on the photo, I forgot to garnish with reserve chopped scallions tops and that would have made this photo look better. As would a sprinkling of paprika. I seem to always forget the garnishes!

* Exported from MasterCook *

Potatoes and Poblanos

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------

2 large poblano pepper -- roasted, peeled, and seeded
12 ounces potatoes
1/2 cup sliced onion
2 ounces Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar -- shredded, divided
1/4 cup chopped scallions -- reserve about 1 tablespoon of the chopped, green tops for garnish)
3 tablespoons green chili pepper -- (canned)
2 tablespoons light sour cream
2 tablespoons skim milk
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 425F. Coat a baking dish with cooing spray.

Boil the potatoes with the sliced onion until the potatoes are tender; drain and return to the pot. Stir the potatoes and onion over high heat for 30 seconds to evaporate excess moisture.

Mash the potatoes and onions along with 2/3 cup of the cheese, most of the scallions, and the remaining ingredients through the chipotle pepper. Stir in the lime juice and season with salt & pepper.

Lay 1/2 of the poblanos in the bottom of the baking dish. Dollop 1/2 of the potato mixture on top and carefully spread the mixture to cover the peppers. Lay the remaining peppers on top, then spread the rest of the potato mixture. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining lowfat cheese and the "regular" sharp cheddar.

Bake for about 20 minutes or until cheese is golden (can also finish the dish under the broiler to brown the cheese a bit).

Sprinkle with reserved scallion tops.

"adapted from Cuisine at Home, Issue #85"

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Per serving: 297 Calories (kcal); 7g Total Fat (5g Saturated); (18% calories from fat); 16g Protein; 45g Carbohydrate; 24mg Cholesterol; 234mg Sodium

* Exported from MasterCook *

Black Bean and Corn Saute

Recipe By : Cuisine at Home
Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1 teaspoon canola oil
1/2 cup diced onion
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 ounces black beans, cooked
3/4 cup frozen corn kernels
3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano -- crumbled
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup halved cherry tomato
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a small saute pan over medium-high heat. Add onin and cumin and cook until onion softens, about 4 minutes. Stir in the beans through garlic and stir until heated through. Add the tomatoes and stir for another minute. Add the lime juice, season with s & p, and stir for one additional minute.

"Cuisine at Home, Issue #85"

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Per serving: 223 Calories (kcal); 4g Total Fat; (13% calories from fat); 11g Protein; 41g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 12mg Sodium
Food Exchanges: 2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Channa Masala

Yesterday was Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil did not see his shadow, so an early spring has been predicted. The mere hope of saying farewell to winter, be it a day or a week or two weeks early, makes me want to dance.

We had a few hours of spring yesterday morning as well. The temps were in the mid-40’s for several hours, although they quickly fell and brought us back into winter. Just after I woke, I went to a radiator in one of the upstairs rooms to say good morning to Spooky (who spends his nights under the covers with us, then for some reason will leave around 7am for the radiator in the next room). I looked outside and saw a beautiful rainbow, even though it was not raining. What a nice gift-- a rainbow in February! It was so beautiful, each band of color blending almost seamlessly into the other, and it stretched in a perfect arc. If I had been dressed I would have been tempted to run outside to see if I could find the pot of gold at the end. But… which end? Anyway, as I watched the winds kicked up and a bank of dark clouds erased the rainbow.

By noon, the temperature outside had started to fall and ominous clouds rolled in. I noticed that I had just a small amount of cooked chickpeas in the freezer, so I decided to make channa masala for lunch. I have used this recipe for several years and do not know the source, but it is a lunchtime favorite in winter. Although probably not “authentic” to the dish, I like to add some vegetables so peas and bell pepper are added to the onion-spice-chickpea mixture. This time I had a partial can of diced tomatoes in the refrigerator, so I used those instead of tomato sauce. We both decided that we prefer the sauce.

The spice mixture of garam masala, coriander, cumin, ginger, and turmeric is very fragrant and this is a perfect dish to warm up with on a cold winter day. I used a mix of brown and white basmati rice.

* Exported from MasterCook *

Channa Masala

Servings: 2

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon canola oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

2 medium garlic cloves -- crushed

8 ounces tomato sauce

8 ounces cooked chickpeas -- (about one 15-ounce can, drained)

1/3 cup frozen green peas -- thawed

chopped fresh cilantro

chopped cashews

Prepare rice, as desired.

Mix spices in a small cup and set aside.

Heat oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion and bell pepper until softened. Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the spice mixture and stir for a minute. Pour in the tomato sauce and mix well, then add the green peas and chickpeas and stir. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the hear, cover, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring often to prevent sticking.

Serve over hot, steamed rice. Garnish with the cilantro and/ or cashews as desired.

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Per serving: 293 Calories (kcal); 6g Total Fat (1g saturated); (16% calories from fat); 14g Protein; 50g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 1257mg Sodium

Food Exchanges: 2 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 2 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 1/2 Fat; 0 Other Carbohydrates