Friday, January 29, 2010

Weekly Menu #11

It's my turn to select recipes. Last week's picks by Heather were terrific, hope mine measure up.

yield: Makes 4 servings
active time: 20 min
total time: 25 min

1 bunch scallions
1 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup salted roasted whole cashews

Chop scallions, separating white and green parts. Pat chicken dry, then cut into 3/4-inch pieces and toss with salt and pepper. Heat a wok or 12-inch heavy skillet (not nonstick) over moderately high heat until a drop of water evaporates immediately. Add oil, swirling to coat, then stir-fry chicken until golden in places and just cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add bell pepper, garlic, ginger, red-pepper flakes, and scallion whites to wok and stir-fry until peppers are just tender, 5 to 6 minutes.
Stir together broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, and sugar, then stir into vegetables in wok. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in cashews, scallion greens, and chicken along with any juices accumulated on plate.
Gourmet March 2006
Yield: Makes 4 servings
Active Time: 25 min
Total Time: 1 1/4 hr

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 lb onions (3 large), thinly sliced
1 lb frozen pizza dough, thawed
6 oz fresh cremini mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced (reviewers recommend sauting)
1 (5-oz) package Boursin garlic-herb cheese
Heat 3 tablespoons oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then cook onions with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to moderate and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and golden, about 15 minutes more. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and deep golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Remove from heat and cool to warm, about 10 minutes.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 475°F.

While onions cool, coat pizza dough with 1 tablespoon oil in a 17- by 12-inch shallow baking pan and stretch and press dough to cover bottom (dough may be resistant to stretching at first, but it will soon relax). Spread onions evenly over dough. Toss mushrooms with 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and remaining tablespoon oil in a bowl, then spread evenly over onions. Crumble cheese evenly over mushrooms.

Bake pizza until underside of dough is golden and cheese is beginning to brown, 14 to 16 minutes.
Cooks' note: Onions can be cooked 1 day ahead and cooled completely, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Also, reviewers recommend cooking the mushrooms before putting them on the pizza.
Penne Puttanesca With Chicken Sausages
4 servings
Prep: 15 minutes

2 1/2 cups uncooked penne pasta
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 3-ounce cooked chicken sausages, sliced
4 medium tomatoes, cored, peeled and diced (about 3 cups)
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 pitted kalamata olives, quartered lengthwise
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
Thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
Chopped flat-leaf fresh parsley

Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Add sausages and cook 3 minutes, or until browned.
Add tomatoes, garlic, tomato paste and red pepper. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat, and simmer 3 minutes, or until thickened.
Stir in olives and capers.
Spoon over penne and garnish with basil and parsley.

25 min 5 min prep

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 (16 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 large zucchini, cut into cubes
1/2-1 teaspoon cilantro
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2-1 cup chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste
cooked whole grain rice or cooked couscous
Heat oil in large saute pan or electric skillet.
Sprinkle chicken thighs with salt and pepper.
Place thighs in pan and brown on each side (2-3 minutes per side).
Add the zucchini, stir and saute, until tender and lightly browned.
Add the garbanzo beans (drained), diced tomatoes, and chicken broth.
Sprinkle all with cumin, cayenne, and cinnamon.
Turn the heat to low, and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
Season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle with cilantro.
Serve with whole grain rice or cooked couscous.

NOTE: If you decide to serve this with cooked couscous, it tastes extra special with 2 tbs raisins, 2 tbs pine nuts, and some additional cilantro mixed in with the couscous.
Enchilada Lasagna
Spice up your night with this Mexican-inspired Enchilada Lasagna

What You'll Need
1⁄2 lb ground turkey breast
1 1⁄2 c reduced-fat Mexican-blend or Cheddar cheese
1 c canned diced tomatoes, drained
1 c low-fat, low-sodium cottage cheese
1⁄4 c canned jalapeño peppers, diced
1⁄2 c chopped scallions
2 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic, crushed
9 6" corn tortillas
1 c taco sauce

How To Make It
Brown the turkey in a nonstick skillet. Let it cool, then combine it in a bowl with the cheese (reserving 1/2 c), tomatoes, cottage cheese, peppers, scallions, chili powder, and garlic, stirring well. Coat an 11" x 7" baking dish with cooking spray. Place three tortillas in the dish and top with half of the turkey mixture. Layer three more tortillas, then the remaining turkey mixture. Place the last three tortillas on top, pour taco sauce over them, and sprinkle with 1/2 c cheese. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes. Makes 4 servings

Per Serving
437 calories
34 grams (g) protein
43 g carbohydrates
11 g fat (6 g saturated)
893 milligrams (mg) sodium
3 g fiber

Simple Side
Popeye and Olive Oil Salad

What You'll Need
1 1⁄2 c chopped baby spinach leaves
1 1⁄2 c chopped romaine lettuce
3 slices chopped prosciutto
1⁄3 c mandarin orange slices
1⁄3 c sliced strawberries
2 Tbsp diced red onion

For The Dressing
1 1⁄2 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1⁄2 clove garlic, crushed
1⁄8 tsp black pepper

Per Serving
238 calories
9 g protein
23 g carbohydrates
14 g fat (4 g saturated)
450 mg sodium
6 g fiber

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Jill and Nathan Mittens

Even though I've posted other mittens, these are the first pair I made.

One loses most of one's heat through bare extremities. Guess that's handled.

Weekly Menu #10 - Heather

Found a lot of these recipes in Real Simple in an article about 400 calorie or less meals. Have been wanting to try them. However, the creamy gnocchi was not from that article! :) It just
looked yummy and like something J would really like. If you really want to be adventurous make your own gnocchi...I did it once and it was fantastic!!! But I can tell you I will be buying
prepackaged from the store this time!! :)
Have a good weekend everyone!
Delicious and quick chili. I used about 1 lb of ground beef instead of turkey and chopped up 1/2 a chipotle chili. Also, since I don't like green bell peppers, I used red. Might have been a little sweet.

Serves 4 Hands-On Time: 15m Total Time: 40m
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 pound ground turkey (preferably dark meat)
2 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper or 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
cilantro sprigs, for serving
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
Add the turkey and cook, breaking up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes more. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, and chili pepper and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes (with their juices), the beans, ½ cup water, 1¼ teaspoons salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, 12 to 15 minutes. Serve with the sour cream and cilantro.
Chicken with Broccoli Rabe, Apricots, and Pine Nuts
Very tasty. I did add some herbs to the chicken breast. Unfortunately, couldn't find broccoli rabe, so substituted regular broccoli.
Serves 4 Hands-On Time: 25m Total Time: 25m
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
kosher salt and black pepper
6 dried apricots, sliced
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 bunch broccoli rabe (about 1 pound), trimmed

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Season the chicken with ¼ teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through, 7 to 8 minutes per side; transfer to plates.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a second skillet over medium-high heat. Add the apricots, pine nuts, and garlic and cook, stirring, until the pine nuts and garlic are golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes; remove with a slotted spoon.
Add the broccoli rabe, ¼ cup water, and ½ teaspoon salt to the second skillet and cook, covered, until the broccoli rabe is tender, 2 to 3 minutes; add the apricots, pine nuts, and garlic. Serve with the chicken.
Creamy Pesto Gnocchi with Green Beans and Ricotta

One of the most delicious things we've had. I made my own pesto instead of store bought.

Serves 4 Hands-On Time: 10m Total Time: 20m

1 pound gnocchi (refrigerated or frozen)
kosher salt and pepper
1/2 pound green beans, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
1 8-ounce container store-bought pesto (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup ricotta
Cook the gnocchi according to the package directions. Drain and return them to the pot.
Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of water to a boil and add 1 tablespoon salt. Add the green beans and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes; drain.
Add the pesto and cream to the gnocchi and cook over medium heat, stirring, just until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide among bowls and top with the green beans, ricotta, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
Creamy Barley Salad with Apples

Serves 4 Hands-On Time: 15m Total Time: 45m

1/2 cup pearl barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 stalks celery, sliced
1 apple, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped (optional)
2 bunches arugula, thick stems removed (about 6 cups)

In a medium saucepan, combine the barley, 1 ½ cups water, and ½ teaspoon salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the barley is tender and the water is absorbed, 25 to 30 minutes. Drain and spread on a rimmed baking sheet to cool.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, lemon juice, mustard, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Add the celery, apple, mint, and cooled barley and toss to combine.
Divide the arugula among bowls. Top with the barley mixture.
Steak with Arugula, Orange, and Hearts of Palm Salad
Serves 4 Hands-On Time: 20m Total Time: 20m
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak (1 inch thick)
kosher salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 orange
2 bunches arugula, thick stems removed (about 8 cups)
1 14-ounce can hearts of palm, rinsed and sliced
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)

Heat 1 teaspoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook to the desired doneness, 5 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, the remaining tablespoon of oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.
Cut away the peel and pith of the orange. Working over the bowl of vinaigrette, cut out the orange segments, adding them to the bowl as you go. Add the arugula, hearts of palm, and shallot and toss to combine. Serve with the steak and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, if using.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Magician's Assistant - Ann Patchett

The Magician's Assistant The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Bel Canto, by this author, is a fabulous book. This one was written prior to Bel Canto and I didn't expect it to be as good. It was great. Highly recommend. Story of a magician's assitant/wife who is widowed at the beginning of the book.

She learns a secret about her husband's past and the book is her journey. Very, very good.

View all my reviews >>

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet - Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Finally, a book without a sad ending. Loved this story that goes back and forth between 1940's and 80's. Set in Seattle's Chinatown. I recommend it.

View all my reviews >>

Weekly Menu #9 - Nathan

Day 1:
Quinoa Risotto with Mushrooms and Thyme
yield: Makes 4 main-course or 6 side-dish servings
active time: 25 minutes
total time: 25 minutes

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 8-ounce package sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
6 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, sliced
3 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
1 cup dry white wine
Grated Parmesan cheese

Bring 2 cups salted water to boil in medium saucepan. Add quinoa, reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender and water is absorbed, about 13 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until onion begins to brown, 5 minutes. Add garlic; stir 30 seconds. Add mushrooms and thyme.

Saute until mushrooms are tender, 6 minutes. Add wine; stir until wine is reduced and liquid is syrupy, 2 minutes.
Mix quinoa into mushroom mixture; season with salt and pepper. Pass cheese separately.

Day 2:
Barley Stew with Leeks, Mushrooms, and Greens
yield: Makes 6 servings
active time: 25 minutes
total time: 55 minutes

Rustic and delicious, this healthy meatless stew is a hearty main course.
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped leeks (about 2 small stalks; white and pale green parts only)
1 8-ounce container sliced crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 1/4 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 cup pearl barley
4 cups (or more) vegetable broth
1 bunch kale (about 8 ounces), trimmed, center stalks removed, leaves coarsely chopped (about 8 cups packed)

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add leeks; sprinkle with salt and pepper and sauté until leeks begin to soften, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic, and rosemary; increase heat to medium-high and sauté until mushrooms soften and begin to brown, stirring often, about 7 minutes. Add tomatoes with juice; stir 1 minute. Add barley and 4 cups broth; bring to boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until barley is almost tender, about 20 minutes. Add kale; stir until wilted, about 1 minute. Cover and simmer until kale and barley are tender, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed for desired stew consistency, about 10 minutes.

Day 3:
Broiled Chicken, Romaine, and Tomato Bruschetta
yield: Makes 1 serving
active time: 25 min
total time: 25 min

It's so straightforward to put everything under the broiler at once and remove each component as finished—when the bread is toasted, the... more
1 (1/2-inch-thick) center slice from a round Italian loaf of bread
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing
3 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 chicken cutlet (about 1/4 inch thick)
1 plum tomato, halved lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon herbes de Provence/em> or dried thyme
1/4 head romaine (quarter head lengthwise), tough outer leaves removed and root end kept intact
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 garlic clove, halved crosswise

Preheat broiler.

Brush both sides of bread with oil, then put bread on a large baking sheet.
Stir together mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, and zest in a small bowl, then coat top of cutlet with about 2 tablespoons sauce, reserving remaining sauce. Transfer chicken to baking sheet.

Brush cut sides of tomato with oil and season with salt and pepper, then sprinkle with herbes de Provence. Transfer to baking sheet.

Toss romaine with 1 tablespoon oil, lemon juice, and 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until coated. Transfer to baking sheet.

Broil 3 to 4 inches from heat until bread is golden-brown, about 2 minutes. Turn bread and continue broiling until browned, about 2 minutes. Remove toast from broiler and continue broiling until romaine is wilted and well browned in spots, chicken is just cooked through, and tomato is lightly browned, 1 to 4 minutes more (remove romaine, chicken, and tomato as done).
Rub toast with cut side of garlic (reserve other 1/2 clove for another use). Top garlic toast with chicken, lettuce, and tomato. Serve with remaining sauce.

Day 4:
Chicken, Grated Beets, and Beet Greens with Orange Butter
yield: Makes 2 servings
active time: 35 minutes
total time: 35 minutes

Your whole meal—both meat and side—is cooked in just one pan. Us e the food processor grating disk to make quick work of shredding the beets.

1 1/2 tablespoons butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange peel
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 skinless boneless chicken breast halves
2 tablespoons chopped shallots
2 medium red beets with greens, greens stemmed and coarsely chopped, beets peeled and coarsely grated
2 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar, divided
1/3 cup water

Mix 1 tablespoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon orange peel in small bowl. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Add to skillet and sauté until cooked through and golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Place 1 chicken breast in center of each plate; tent with foil to keep warm.

Melt remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter with 1/2 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots; stir until tender and beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add beet greens; toss until leaves are tender but still bright green, about 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon Sherry wine vinegar; stir 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Spoon greens alongside chicken; cover to keep warm. Add grated beets and 1/3 cup water to same skillet; cover and cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and continue cooking until beets are tender and water is almost evaporated, stirring often, about 1 minute. Add remaining 1 teaspoon vinegar; stir 30 seconds. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon beets onto plates. Spoon orange butter atop chicken and serve.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Shanghai Girls - Lisa See (Bookgroup, Audio)

Shanghai Girls Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Mediocre read. Strangely, I was reading another book about Chinese-Americans during WWII at the same time, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Far, far better book.

I got very tired of Pearl's defeatist attitude and never want to hear the words "What could I do?" again.

Lots of better books about this subject.

View all my reviews >>

Grilled Spicy Fish Tacos

This recipe is as good as any fish tacos I've had at a restaurant and SO EASY. Another keeper from Men's Health. It was too cold and we were in a hurry when we made this so instead of grilling, we sprinkled blackening on a piece of cod, put it in a hot skillet (with a little oil) and cooked on the first side about 5 minutes or less, flipped it and cooked until done, about 2 minutes.

Thai-Style Beef with Noodles Recipe at

Thai-Style Beef with Noodles Recipe at

We made this recipe when we were in Sunriver for Christmas. It was delicious, but just a tad too spicy. I may have used a bit too much ginger or curry paste.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Bella's Mittens

I bought some bulky yarn for mittens and found this cute mitten pattern on Ravelry. It was inspired by the mittens in Twilight. They are so warm. Will probably make another pair, but change up the cable to be two parallel cables instead of two attached cables.