Friday, January 31, 2014

Pistachio and Pine Nut Brittle

Serves 10 (serving size: about 1 ounce)  Prep: 2 Hours, 20 Minutes

Pistachio and Pine Nut Brittle is a sweet spin on the traditional peanut brittle. This nut 2/3 cup sugar

1/3           cup light-colored corn syrup
1/4           cup water
1/2           cup unsalted dry-roasted pistachios, coarsely chopped  

1/3           cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
1/4           cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped
1-1/2        tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3/4           teaspoon baking soda
1/2           teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4           teaspoon salt

1.      Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2.      Combine first 3 ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring just until combined; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 335° or until syrup is dark golden brown. Remove from heat; stir in pistachios and remaining ingredients (mixture will bubble). Quickly pour mixture onto prepared pan; spread to about 1/2-inch thickness. Cool completely (about 2 hours). Break brittle into bite-sized pieces.

Make-ahead tip: Cool the brittle completely, break into chunks, and store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.
Candy also includes dried cranberries, giving the brittle a festive color of red and green (from the pistachios) if using for the holidays , but good all year round .

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Savory Herb Spread

               Prep : 30 minutes        Makes 1 cup

1/4                cup chopped flat-leaf parsley 6                   gherkins [or 1 regular-size pickle], chopped
1                  tablespoon  small capers, rinsed and drained
1                 clove garlic
1                 tablespoon  Dijon mustard
1                 tablespoon  whole grain Dijon mustard
1                teaspoon  red wine vinegar
1/2             cup I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® Spread
 1 .       Combine all ingredients except I Can't Believe It's Not Butter!® Spread in medium bowl.
2.       Combine mixture with Spread in medium bowl. Serve, if desired, with grilled whole wheat bread or use as a dressing on any sandwich. Try a spoonful on top of grilled fish, roasted chicken or a bowl of pasta just before serving.
Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature, then serve as above.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

How To Freeze and Store Soup

Use zip-top plastic freezer bags to freeze any leftover soup. It will last up to 1 month in the freezer.

Warm up and fill up with big-batch soups, stews, and chowders from your freezer.

Leftover soup will last up to 3 days in the fridge or up to 1 month in the freezer. Follow these steps on how to freeze and store soup and you'll be set all winter long!

How to Freeze Soup
1. Cool. Refrigerators and freezers cannot cool soups quickly enough to be food safe. Speed up the cooling process by placing the pot of soup in a bath of ice water in the sink. Stir soup often to help release the heat.
2. Package. Label and date gallon- or quart-size zip-top plastic freezer bags, place in a bowl, and cuff the bag over the edge. Ladle soup into each bag, then let out any excess air and seal.
3. Freeze. Lay bags flat in a single layer in the freezer; when frozen, stack bags to save space.
4. Reheat. Thaw overnight in fridge. Reheat chowders over low heat; gumbo, stew, and Hearty Italian Soup
An article I cut out of Southern Living magazine October issue 2009 ...
It help me a great deal to plan ahead , especially in this weather ...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Bayou Red Beans & Rice Casserole

Prep time : 25 minutes  plus beans' soaking time     Cooking time : 2-1/2 hours     Makes  6 servings

Rice  can be  steamed , baked  or microwaved  to perfection . When combined  with beans  in the trio of recipes  below , it provides  high-quality protein.
              A Global Dish
Rice and bean combinations range from spicy to mild  . They are  popular  dishes  in cuisines  throughout  the world  , including  our  own  Southern  and Southwestern states .
In Louisiana  , which is famous  for its long-grain rice  , red beans  and rice  is the dish of choice . Traditionally , red beans and rice was  made on a Monday  to take  advantage  of the ham bone  left over  from Sunday's dinner .

2               cups  dried  red kidney  beans , sorted  and rinsed
1               tablespoon vegetable oil
8               ounces  chorizo , sliced  , or hot Italian  sausage , removed from casings  and crumbled
1               large onion , coarsely chopped
1               large  sweet green pepper  , cored , seeded  and chopped
1/2            cup  chopped celery
2               cloves  garlic , minced
8               ounces  smoked ham , diced
4               cups Browned  Beef Stock , canned broth  or water
2               whole bay leaves
1/2            teaspoon  dried  thyme  , crumbled
1/2            teaspoon dried  marjoram , crumbled
1/4            teaspoon cayenne pepper
2               cups long-grain rice
1               tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2            teaspoon  salt or  to taste ( I use  kosher salt)

1 .       Soak beans overnight  in water to cover . Drain beans  (if cooking beans  in water instead of broth , reserve  soaking  liquid   and add  water  to total  1 quart liquid ); set aside .
2 .       In a 6-quart Dutch oven  over  moderate heat  ,  heat oil 1 minute . Add chorizo  and saute  until brown  --- about  5 minutes ; transfer to paper toweling  to drain .   Drain all  but 2 tablespoons  of pan drippings  . Add onion, green pepper  , celery and garlic  and saute until soft --- about 5 minutes . Add reserved  beans , ham , stock , bay leaves , thyme , marjoram  and cayenne pepper . Bring  to a boil over high heat . Reduce  the heat to  moderately low and simmer  covered  until beans  are tender --- about 1-1/2 hours . Remove  and discard  bay leaves  .
Preheat  the oven  to 350*F .
3 .          Drain beans  , reserving  1 cup liquid  . Put beans and liquid  into a lightly  greased  3-quart  casserole  ; stir  in chorizo , rice , vinegar   and salt to taste .
4 .          Bake , covered until hot  --- about  40 minutes  . Serve  with hot red pepper sauce .

Caribbean Black beans  and Rice :      Makes 6 servings

Prepare as directed  , substituting  dried  black beans  for kidney beans . Add  1 large  chopped  cored  and seeded  sweet red pepper  along with the onion , green pepper  celery and garlic . Proceed as directed , but increase  cooking time  to between 2  and 2-1/2  hours .  Add  1 teaspoon finely grated  orange  zest along with  vinegar and salt  .  Remove and discard  bay leaf  . Increase rice to  3 cups  but do not mix in ; also do not bake  . Instead , serve immediately over rice   and top , if desired with sour cream .

New Mexico Chili Rice  and Pinto Beans :    Makes 6 o 8 servings

Prepare as directed , substituting  dried pinto beans  for kidney beans . Omit  chorizo  and increase smoked ham to 1 pound . Proceed as directed , adding  two 4-ounce cans , drained  , chopped  mild  green chilies  and 1 seeded , cored  and finely chopped jalapeno along with the beans  , ham  and seasonings . Cook as directed  for Bayou Red Beans  . Mix in vinegar and salt . Remove and discard bay leaf . Increase  rice to 3 cups  but do not mix in ; also do not bake  . Instead  serve  immediately over  rice . 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Potato Skins With 7 Layers

 Start to finish : 45 minutes (15 minutes active)       Serves :16

Ready for the Super-Bowl party, lets try  something different this year , try something  different , freshen it up with  a bit  by using  a slab  of roasted  potato instead of chips .

8              medium potatoes
2              tablespoons  vegetable oil , divided
2              large yellow onions , diced
      kosher salt  and ground black pepper
8             ounces  loose sausage meat  , cooked and crumbled
1/2          cup sour cream
               cloves  garlic , minced
8             slices cooked bacon , crumbled
1             cup shredded  cheddar cheese
2             scallions , sliced

1 .         Heat the oven  to 400*F . Line  a rimmed baking sheet  with  foil , then coat  with cooking spray .
2 .         Poke the potatoes  all over with a folk  . Microwave on high  until tender , about 1o to 12 minutes , depending on the  wattage  of your microwave . Allow to cool until  easily  handled .
3 .         Meanwhile  , heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a  medium skillet over medium heat  . Add the  onions  and cook until  softened  and browned  , 15 to 18 minutes .
4 .         When the potatoes  are cook enough  to handle  , cut them in half . Scoop out and  reserve the insides  , leaving  a 1/4-inch thick wall of potato flesh on the side of the skin .
5 .          Arrange  the halves  skin down  on the prepared  baking sheet . Brush  the potatoes  with the remaining  tablespoon  of oil . Sprinkle  lightly with salt and pepper  , then  bake  for 15 to 20 minutes  or until crisp  and brown .
6 .         Meanwhile , in a medium  bowl , stir together  the reserved potato  flesh  and the sausage  . Season  with salt and pepper  , if needed  . In a  small bowl , stir together  the sour cream  and garlic . Set aside .
7 .         Once the  potato skins  have baked , start  laying  them . Spoon  a bit  of the caramelized onions  into  the bottom  of each  shell . Top  with sausage-potato mixture . This should  mostly fill the shell . Sprinkle crumbled  bacon  over the potatoes , followed by  cheese .
8 .         Bake another  10 minutes  . Top with  a dollop  of garlic sour cream  and sprinkle  with the  scallions . Serve immediately .

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Other White Meat ----- Plan ahead --- 4 Day Meal

         PORK SHOULDER ROAST ---Day 1
1.                Heat oven  to 325 degrees .
2.                Mix together  in a small bowl 
1-1/2           teaspoons kosher salt   
1                 teaspoon freshly ground pepper 
1                 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds
** rub all over  ! large  bone in pork shoulder roast (about 6 pounds) , Pressing the seasoning into the meat .
2 .              Heat 2 tablespoons  canola  oil in a large Dutch oven  over medium-high heat . Add the pork ; brown on all sides  . transfer the pork  to a rack  inside a roasting pan  just large enough to hold it . Pour 1 quart  water into pan . Roast until  very tender . 2 to 3 hours . (add more water  to the pan if it becomes dry  near the end  of the cooking time).
3 .             Remove Roast from the oven ; allow to rest , covered , about 20 minutes . Cut slices  for Dinner ; serve with vegetables and starch of your choice .
4 .             After dinner , pull the remaining pork  into sheds  or cut  into thick slices . Portion the pork  into 3 sealable  containers  for the next  3 nights , saving the bone  for broth . Refrigerate.
PORK AND BOK CHOY STIR-FRY  ------Day 2         
1 .                 Stir 1/4 cup hoisin sauce  and 1 tablespoon soy sauce  together in a small bowl ; set aside  . Heat 2 tablespoons  vegetables  oil  in a wok  or large skillet  over medium-high heat ; add 2 cloves  garlic , minced  and 2 teaspoons  minced or grated  fresh ginger . Stir fry  2 seconds . Add 2 medium heads  bok choy  cut in 1-inch pieces  ; stir fry until  beginning to soften .                
2 .         Reduce heat  to low  . Add the hoisin-soy mixture  and 1 pound  cooked pork , sliced into thin  strips  (about 3 cups) . Simmer just until heated  through ; squeeze half  an orange  over the stir-fry . Serve over cooked  brown or white rice  garnished with plenty of fresh cilantro  it you desire.
Warm 2 cups shredded pork in a little  chicken or vegetable broth  until heated through . Warm 8  corn or flour  tortillas  on a griddle  or in  a cast-iron skillet . Build the tacos  with shredded Chihuahua  cheese  , then the shredded pork  , cubes of roasted butternut squash , toasted  pepitas  and pickles onions  or very thin raw onion slices  . Top with crumbled  queso fresco  and a little tomatillo salsa.
PORK AND WHITE BEAN SOUP ------Day 4                        

1 .              For the Broth , put the reserved shoulder bone , half an onion , 1 carrot  and 1 rib celery , each cut in half  , in a saucepan . Add cold water  to cover . Heat to simmer  ; cook 1 hour  . Discard the bone  and vegetables  ; strain  the soup through  a fine mash strainer.
2 .             FOR THE SOUP : Heat 2 tablespoons  olive oil  in a Dutch oven  ; Add 1 onion  chopped  and 1 carrot chopped . Season with salt  and red pepper flakes  to taste  Cook until softened  . Add 2 cups shredded  or cubed  pork , 2 cups cooked white beans (or 2 cans , 14 ounces  each , white beans  , drained  and rinsed ) and enough of the homemade broth  to cover . Cook at a low  simmer  until the pork  and beans are heated through . Taste  for seasoning  . Mash the beans  a little  in  the saucepan  to thicken the soup . Garnish with plenty of fresh  parsley .

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Spicy -Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip

Prep / Total time : 1 hour  (35 minutes active)

1                    tablespoon olive oil
1-1/2              cups finely chopped  yellow onion
1                    tablespoon minced  garlic
1                    can (13.75 ounces) can artichoke hearts , drained
1                    (10-ounce) box frozen chopped spinach , thawed  and squeeze dry
4                    ounces  Neufchatel (low-fat cream cheese)
1/2                 cup low-fat sour cream
2                    tablespoons  low-fat mayonnaise
1                    ounce  freshly  grated  Parmigiano-Reggiano (about 3/4 cup grated  using a wand-style grater)
1/2                 cup medium chopped  mild Peppadew peppers (about 2 ounces) or medium  chopped  roasted  red peppers
1                     teaspoon red peppers flakes (about 2 ounces) or to taste
Kosher salt
Crackers or low-fat pita  crisps to serve

1 .        Heat the oven  to 375*F . Coat  an 8-inch  square baking pan  with cooking spray .
2 .        In a medium skillet over  medium-low , heat the oil . Add the onion  and saute , covered  , stirring occasionally  for 8 minutes . Uncover  the pan  and continue cooking  , stirring  occasionally  until the onions is golden brown , about 5 minutes . Add the garlic and cook  stirring 1 minute  . Remove  the pan  from the heat  and set aside  , in a food processor  , pulse  the artichokes until they are medium  chopped , then transfer  them to the skillet.
3 .          In the food processor combine  the spinach , cream cheese  , sour cream , mayonnaise  and half the Parmigiano-Reggiano , then process until  mixed . Add the mixture  to the skillet  along with the peppers and pepper flakes . Stir well , then season  with salt .
4 .         Transfer  the mixture  to the remaining  cheese  over the top  and bake  on the oven middle  shelf  for 15 to 20 minutes  or until it is bubbling  at the edges . Serve immediately  with crackers  or low fat pita crisps .

Make  your own Pita chips :
Separate  some  two-layer pita bread  pockets in single layers , spray them lightly  with oil , cut them into triangles  and bake  them at 400 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes   or until crisp .

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Grapefruit Marmalade

Prep :  40 minutes + overnight      Cook : 50 minutes     Makes  4 half-pints

2                 large thick-skinned grapefruits
1                 large  thick-skinned  lemon
2                 cups water
4                 cups sugar

1.          Peel grapefruit  and lemon ; cut away inner white  part leaving  rind  and white pith  about 3/8-inch thick . Cut into shivers 3/4-inch long  and 1/8-inch wide . Discard excess  pith , fiber  and seeds  . Chop fruit  coarsely  , reserving  juice .
2 .         In an 8-quart  nonreactive heavy kettle  over moderately high heat , simmer rind  , chopped fruit  , reserved juice  and water  , uncovered for 10 minutes . Pour in a large  heatproof  glass bowl  and let stand  , covered  in a cool place  overnight .
3.          Return mixture to  kettle  , add sugar  and set over  moderate  heat . Insert a candy thermometer  and bring to a boil  , stirring  until sugar dissolves . Continue  boiling  , stirring occasionally  until thermometer  registers 21*F to 220*F.
4 .         Remove  from the heat , skim off foam  and ladle into sterilized  half-pint canning jars , leaving  1/4-inch  head space . Wipe  rims  and seal . Place label and store in a cool dark place .

                            ORANGE MARMALADE
Prepare as directed  above  , substituting  2 large  navel oranges  or Valencia  oranges  for the grapefruit  . Do not discard seeds  ; instead  tie  seeds in cheesecloth  and simmer  along  with rind  and chopped fruit . Remove bag  of seeds  before  cooling overnight , then proceed  as directed . Makes 4 half-pints.

Prepare  as  directed . substituting  6 large limes  for the grapefruit  or oranges   and using 1-1/2 cups  sugar  to each 1 cup fruit mixture . Stir in 1/3  finely  chopped crystallized  ginger  after sugar dissolves  in step 3 , then proceed  as directed . Makes 4 half-pints .

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Eight-Onion Soup & a Puff Pastry Hat

Prep : 20 minutes     Cook : 55 minutes      Serves 8

2           tablespoons  butter or margarine
5           medium-size  yellow onions  , thinly sliced
2           tablespoons  sugar
2           thinly  sliced washed leeks
2           thinly sliced shallots
5           crushed garlic cloves
20         peeled pearl onions
1           thinly sliced red onion
3-1/2     cups  Browned Beef Stock or canned  reduced-sodium beef broth
5            cups water
1/4        cup brandy  (optional)
1/2        teaspoon salt
1/2         teaspoon black pepper
2           sheets  frozen puff pastry dough
4           tablespoons  (2 ounces) grated Gruyere cheese

1 .         Preheat  the oven  to  400*F . In a  5-quart Dutch oven  over  moderately high heat , melt the butter  , add onions  and sugar  and cook over high heat until onions  are lightly golden  --- about  10 minutes . Reduce the heat  to moderately low  and cook  stirring occasionally  until onions  are golden -- about 15 minutes more .
2 .        Add the s the scallions  and 7 cups  of beef stock  and simmer uncover  for and hour . Meanwhile  , on a lightly  floured work surface  , spread two 9-1/2x9-1/4x1/8-inch  sheets of frozen puff pastry  that have been thawed   in the  refrigerator   and cut into  8 rounds  , slightly larger  than  diameter  of the soup bowls .  
3 .         Divide soup  among 8 ovenproof  soup bowls or ramekins  and sprinkle each portion  with 1 tablespoon  freshly  snipped  chives .
4 .         Fit pastry  on top of the soup bowls  , crimping  edges  to seal  and bake  uncovered  , until puff is golden brown --- about  20 minutes  .   

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Chinese Shrimp Dumplings

Prep time : 25 minutes        Cooking time 7 minutes      Makes  32 dumplings

Chinese dumplings or "Peking ravioli" are paper-thin squares  of dough  wrapped around spicy  filling . Steamed and dipped in sauce , they're fat free  and guaranteed to please .

6                dried Chinese  black mushrooms  or dried European mushrooms
8                ounces  shrimp , shelled , deveined  and minced
2                scallions  with tops  , thinly sliced
1                garlic clove , minced
1                tablespoon minced ginger 
1/2             teaspoon salt
1/4             cup finely  chopped  , canned  water  chestnuts
3                tablespoons  soy sauce
1                tablespoon dry sherry
1                teaspoon dark Oriental  sesame oil  (optional)
2                teaspoons cornstarch
32              wonton skins
4                teaspoons molasses
2                teaspoons  dark brown sugar
1                tablespoon lime  juice

1.        In a small bowl , cover mushrooms  with boiling water  and let stand  until soft  --- about 20 minutes . Drain , stem , and finely  chopped the mushrooms  and transfer to  a medium-size  bowl .
2 .        Mix in shrimp  , scallions , garlic , ginger , salt , water chestnuts  , 1 tablespoon  soy sauce  , sherry , sesame oil (optional)  and cornstarch .
3 .         Spoon a teaspoon  of the mixture  onto each  wonton skin . Fold and pleat .
4 .         Working in batches  if necessary  , arrange  the dumplings  on a lightly  oiled  steamer rack  and lower into a pan  of simmering water  , making sure  bottom rack  does not touch the water . Cover and steam  just until  filling is  firm  and shrimp are cooked through --- 5 to 8 minutes .
5 .         In a small bowl . whisk  together  the remaining  2 tablespoons  soy sauce  , molasses , brown sugar  and lime juice  and serve ad dipping sauce for the dumplings .

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sausage and Ham Strata --------------Make ahead

                                 Prep/Total time : 6 hours Serves 12

This Strata needs to be refrigerated for at least 4 hours or overnight before baking , just perfect for brunches and overnight guests .

2                        1/2 pound baguettes , cut into 1/2-inch dice
2                         2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2                         tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1                         large onion , finely chopped
3                         celery ribs . peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1                         jalapeno , seeded and minced
3/4                      pound sweet Italian sausage (about 4) casing removed
1                        pound bakes ham , cut into 1/3-inch pieces
1                        andouille sausage (about 4 ounces) finely diced
1                        tablespoon thyme leaves
1                        tablespoon kosher salt
1/2                     teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2                     pound Gruyere cheese , cut into 1/3-inch pieces
1/2                     cut freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4                        large eggs , lightly beaten
4                        cups chicken stock
1-1/2                 cups half-and-half or whole milk

1 .        Preheat the oven to 375*F. Spread the bread on 2 large baking sheets and bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven for 10 minutes , or until golden and crisp ; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through .
2 .          In a large enameled cast-iron casserole , melt the butter in the olive oil . Add the onion , celery and jalapeno and cook over moderate heat stirring until softened , 6 minutes . Add the Italian sausages and cook , breaking up any large pieces until no longer pink , about 8 minutes . Stir in the ham , andouille , thyme and salt and pepper . Transfer to a large bowl to cool .
3 .         Add the Gruyere , Parmesan and bread to the meat . In another bowl , whisk the eggs , stock and half-and-half to the meat and bread mixture ; toss until evenly mixed and moistened . Cover the with plastic and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight .
4 .         Preheat the oven to 350*F. Butter a 4-quart glass or ceramic baking dish . Transfer the strata to the prepared dish and smooth the surface . Butter a large sheet of foil and cover the baking dish with it . Bake the strata in the center of the oven for 30 minutes , or until barely set . Remove the foil and bake another 45 minutes longer or until the strata is bubbling and the top is golden and crusty . Let cool 15 minutes before servings .               

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Bok-Choy Frittata & Aspaagus --- vegetarian

                                         Makes 4 servings

The Asian Flavors that fills this dish is a real change of pace . Cook the eggs on top of the stove or in the oven , be sure to use moderate heat so they don't turn rubbery.

2                   tablespoons cooking oil
3                  scallions , including green tops , slice thin
1                  teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1                  clove garlic , minced
1                  small head bok-choy (about 3/4 pound) cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4              pound asparagus , tough ends snapped off and discarded , spears cut into 1-inch pieces
3/4             teaspoon salt
9                eggs , beaten to mix
1/4             teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1                teaspoon Asian sesame oil

1 .         Heat the oven to 325*F. In a medium cast-iron or ovenproof nonstick frying pan , heat the cooking oil over moderate heat . Add the scallions ginger and garlic and cook , stirring until the leaves wilt , about 2 minutes . Add the asparagus and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and continue to cook , stirring occasionally , until the vegetables are almost tender , about 3 minutes more .

2 .           Evenly distribute the vegetables in the pan and add the eggs , pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt . Cook the frittata without stirring , until the edges start to set , about 2 minutes . Put the fritatta in the oven and bake until firm , about 25 minutes . Drizzle the sesame oil over the top
South Africa is one of the so-call New World wine countries , along with Australia , New Zealand and the Americas , but its best refleck the balance of the European tradition .  A South African chardonny will make a marvelous partner for this Italian-inspired dish .

Friday, January 10, 2014

Chicken Soup with Chinese Influences

Start to finish : 1 hour                  Makes 4 servings

When it's cold outside , it's soup time  , everything goes in a single pot , starting with  an aromatic broth  and a substantial array of vegetables  , a little bit of protein  and a crispy garnish  , the best part is when dinner is over  , there's only one pot to wash!

12                  square wonton wrappers
1/2                 teaspoon canola  or vegetable oil
6                   medium scallions
4x1-inch      piece fresh ginger , unpeeled 
3                   garlic cloves , smashed and peeled 
1/2                cup rice wine , sake or dry sherry 
4                   cups low-sodium chicken broth 
1-1/2            cups thinly  sliced carrots 
5                   ounces  sliced or cubed shiitake  mushrooms 
3                   tablespoons  cornstarch  whisked with 1/4 cup water 
1                  pound  boneless chicken breasts  cut into 1/2-inch cubes 
3                  cups  sliced bok choy or napa  cabbage 
1                  cup frozen peas  (do not defrost) 
3                  tablespoons  low-sodium  soy sauce  
1                  teaspoon toasted  sesame oil

1 .      Heat oven to 375*F . Cut wonton  wrappers  into  1/4-inch  strips . In a bowl , toss the wonton strips  . In a bowl , toss the wonton strips with oil  and a pinch of salt . Arrange  the strips  in a single layer  on a baking sheet . Bake  on the oven's middle shelf  until golden and crisp , 3 to 5 minutes . Let cool completely  before serving .
2 .      Meanwhile , place the scallions on a cutting board  , then use the  side of  a large knife  or a rolling pin  to lightly  smash . cut the ginger  into thin rounds , then sliced  each round  into thin matchsticks .
3 .        In a large saucepan over  medium-high heat , combine the smashed scallions , sliced ginger , garlic , rice wine and broth . Bring  to a boil , then reduce heat , cover and simmer  for 15 minutes  , use a slotted  spoon to remove  and discard the solids .
4 .        Add the carrots  and mushrooms  and simmer gently  , covered  for 5 minutes  . Bring the liquid  to a boil , then add  the cornstarch-water  mixture  in a stream  while whisking . Reduce  to a boil .
5 .        Add the chicken  , bok choy , peas , soy sauce  and sesame oil . Cook gently  until  the chicken is just cooked through  , about 10 minutes .
6 .        Ladle  the soup into bowls  and top  each portion  with some  of the wonton crisps if using . 
TIP : 
Make sure  the chicken goes in last . Cut into bite size chunks , it takes little time to cook  , but will become tough  and leathery  if cooked to long                       

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Flank Steak with Asian Flavors

Start to finish : 1 hour (30 minutes active)
Flank steak isn't Chinese in origin , but in honor  of the Chinese  New Year , but  you can pretend  by dressing  it up with Asian flavors . Start by marinating  it in five-spice power  , rice  vinegar  and soy , when the steak is  absorbing  all those rich flavors  , grate   a daikon radish ( they resemble giant white carrots , but with  a mild peppery bite )  toss in grated  fresh ginger  , scallions  and red bell pepper for a simple  slaw . 
1/2                 teaspoon  ground black pepper
1                    teaspoon , five-spice powder
1/2                 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-1/2              tablespoons  rice vinegar , divided
2                     tablespoons  low-sodium  soy sauce
1                     pound flank steak
1                     cup  shredded daikon radish , patted dry  with paper towels
1                    red bell pepper , cored  and sliced  into thin matchsticks
1-1/2            teaspoons  grated  fresh ginger
** Pinch of salt**
4                  scallions , thinly sliced 
1                  tablespoons canola  or vegetable oil 
1 .      In a large  zip-close  plastic bag  , mix together  the black pepper  , five-spice powder  , red pepper flakes  , 3 tablespoons  of the vinegar and soy sauce  , Add the flank steak  , seal the bag , then turn to coat evenly . Refrigerate  for at least 30 minutes  or up to 2 hours .
2 .      Meanwhile , in a small  bowl , stir together  the daikon  radish , bell pepper , ginger  , salt , the remaining  1-1/2  tablespoons  of vinegar  and the scallions  . Set aside .
3 .       When you are ready to cook the steak , in a large skillet  cover over medium-high  , heat the oil . Add the steak  and sear  for 4 minutes  on each side  or until desired doneness . Allow  the steak to rest  on a cutting  board  for 8 to 10 minutes  . Slice the steak  thinly across the grain  , then serve with the slaw .
If you want to keep this  dish lean  , serve it over brown rice . But if you are willing  to embrace  carbs , try it slapped on a bun .            

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken 'n' Sweet Pepper slow cooker

Prep : 20 minutes             Cook 4 to 5 hours       Make   6 servings

6                  bone-in chicken breast halves (10 ounces each) skin removed
1                 tablespoon vegetable oil
2                 cups  sliced fresh  mushrooms
1                 medium onion ,  halved and sliced
1                 medium green  pepper , julienned
1                 medium sweet red pepper , julienned
1                 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of chicken mushroom soup , un-diluted
** hot cooked rice**

1.        In a large skillet  , brown chicken  in oil on both sides  .
2 .       Transfer  to a  5 quart  slow cooker  . Top with  mushrooms  , onion and peppers . Combine the soups ; pour  over vegetables  . Cover  and cook on low  for 4 to 5 hours or until  a meat  thermometer  reads  170* . Serve with rice .

Monday, January 6, 2014

Chili Salsa with Mushrooms -- slow cooker

Prep: 10 minutes          Cook  7 to 8 hours     Makes 8 servings

1             pound ground beef
1             pound bulk pork sausage
2             cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans , rinsed and drained
1             jar (24 ounces) chunky salsa
1             can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , un-drained
1             large onion , chopped
1             can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1             can ( 4 ounces) mushroom stems  and pieces , drained
1/2          cup each  chopped sweet  red , yellow and green pepper
1/2         teaspoon dried oregano
1/4         teaspoon garlic powder
1/8         teaspoon dried thyme
1/8         teaspoon dried marjoram

1 .        In a large  skillet  , cook beef  and sausage  over medium heat  until meat is no longer pink ; drain.
2 .       Transfer meat  to a 5 -quart  slow cooker  . Stir  in the remaining  ingredients  . Cover and cook  on low  for 7 to 8 hours  or until vegetables  or tender .

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Bean 'n' Beef Stew --- slow cooker

Prep : 15 minutes      Cook 8 hours      Makes  8 servings

1              pound lean beef  stew  meat , cut into 1-inch cubes .
2              cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans , rinsed  and drained
1             can (14-1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes  , un-drained
1-1/2       cups frozen corn
1             cup hot water
1             cup chopped onion
2             celery ribs , chopped
1            can ( 4 ounces)  chopped  green chilies
1            can (2-1/2 ounces) sliced ripe olives , drained
2            tablespoons  uncooked long grain rice
2            tablespoons  chili powder
2            teaspoons  beef bouillon granules
1/4         teaspoon salt
1            can (8 ounces)  tomato sauce 
Shredded cheddar cheese and sour cream **optional**

In a 5-quart slow cooker , combine  the first 13 ingredients . Cover  and cook on low  for 7  hours  or until the beef is tender . Stir in  the tomato sauce  ; cover and cook  for 30 minutes  or until heated  through . Garnish  with the cheese  and sour cream  if desired .

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Fish en Papillote

Fish en papillote is the elegant sounding name of a staple  recipe  of classic French cuisine . Translated  into English , it becomes  the much less elegant sounding ---"fish in a bag." However , by any name  , this method of baking fish is a smash .
Typically , the fish is combined  with vegetables  and herbs , some butter  or oil and often some wine .
If you do add vegetables  they need to be pre-cooked  such ad saute mushrooms , steamed cooked potato cubes  , blanched  broccoli or carrots --- the list is endless .
***Salmon Baked  in a Bag  with Citrus , Olives  and Chilies ***
Prep /Total time : 50 minutes              Serves 4

1                  small orange
1                  lemon
4                  skinless 6-ounce center cut salmon fillets pieces
1/4              cup  chopped rosemary
Kosher salt
2                tablespoons  extra virgin olive oil
1/2             cup pitted  and chopped olives , preferable oil based
1/2             serrano chili , thinly sliced  crosswise

1 .         Heat the oven  to 400*F. Cut the orange  and lemon in half  crosswise . Thinly slice 1/2 of the orange  and 1/2 of the lemon into thin slices  . Juice  the remaining halves  of both fruits .
2 .         Set a 24-inch-long sheet of kitchen  parchment  on a baking sheet . Fold  the sheet in half  across the  short side  , then open  the folded parchment  (like a book) , leaving 1/2  of it on the baking sheet . Arrange  about half of the orange  and lemon  slices  in a single  layer  in the center  of the parchment  on the baking sheet .
3 .        Sprinkle half  the rosemary  over the  citrus  slices . Set  the salmon  over the  rosemary  , then sprinkle  with salt , the citrus  juices  and oil . Top each  piece  of salmon  with a quarter  of the remaining rosemary  and citrus slices .
4 .        Fold the  second  half of the parchment  over the fish  , then crimp  and fold  the edges  together  to create  a sealed  packet . Bake --- on the sheet  pan --- on the oven's  middle shelf  for 10 to 12 minutes  or until just cooked through (sticking  a paring knife  through the parchment  and salmon ; it should move  easily  through the fish when done).
5 .         Cut open  the parchment  , discard  he citrus  juices  from the top  of the salmon  , then  place each  on a serving plate  . Spoon some  of the olives  , chilies , rosemary  and juices over  each piece .