The Recipe Box

recipes and life.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Mashed Potato Casserole
We went to a friend's house for dinner last night, so we made these mashed potatoes to bring along. There were six of us, and we had about half left over, so the recipe could probably be downsized unless it's Thanksgiving or something. So good though.
13 servings instant mashed potatoes (I made them a little thicker than you normally would; I used skim milk, but regular butter; I bet they would have been fine with something light)
I mixed in:
8 oz of light cream cheese (it melted in fine, I'm not sure how fat free would act)
1 cup light sour cream (I bet fat free would have been fine)
a package of chopped chives
12 slices of cooked, chopped bacon (could easily omit, or use turkey bacon; could put on the top near the end of cooking for a crunchy topping also)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar (could probably use 2% with no problem, and could use more or less)
salt and pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp nutmeg (might omit this or use less next time)
Then, I put it all in a 9 x 13 glass dish and baked it for 30 minutes at 350. It was really great. You could do this with real potatoes also. Just boil them and then mash them up and add a little milk and butter and then the rest. You could boil garlic cloves with the potatoes and then mash them up with it. Or use green onions in place of the chives. If you want to leave the bacon mixed throughout rather than sprinkled on top at the end, you could sprinkle those crispy onions on at the end. That would be good too.

Saturday, July 17, 2004

I'm putting off cleaning the kitchen, which seriously is a total
disaster, so I figured I'd write about what made the kitchen so messy

Red Amaranth Saute
This recipe is probably good with a variety of greens. However, I'm
learning about greens. This red amaranth from my CSA basket was light,
had delicate leaves, was young and fresh. I cut the leaves off the
stems and then chopped the leaves. Even though greens really
reduce when you cook them, large leaves become these big blobs of well,
greenness, rather than scatter throughout the dish.

Anyway, I chopped up a bunch of amaranth leaves and set them aside.
Then, toasted 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts by just putting them in a
hot pan, jiggling it around until the nuts got a little darker, and
then set them aside. In that same pan, I sauted 5 cloves of minced
garlic in a little olive oil and some salt and pepper. I added the
amaranth, and sauted that until it all reduced down. I added a little
more salt and pepper and then the nuts. I let it all heat together and
then took it off the heat and sprinkled some soft goat cheese (I had
some French goat cheese in a package and I used a fork to scoop out
pieces) on top.

Very good and amaranth is high in protein and vitamin a. According to my CSA newsletter.

Shitake Thai Sticks
These were great. And fairly easy despite requiring deep frying. I used
a little deep fryer, but you could use any pot with hot oil in it.

I stemmed a 1/2 lb of shitake mushrooms from the CSA basket. Then I
tossed them with some peanut oil and salt and pepper, put them on a
baking sheet, and roasted them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20

Then, I sauted about 2 tsp fresh grated ginger and 3 cloves of minced
garlic in peanut oil for a couple of minutes and then added that to a
bowl with 5 sliced red scallions from the basket, 1 tbl rice wine
vinegar, 1 tbl soy sauce, and a dash of sesame oil.

Once the mushrooms were done, I chopped them into long slices and added
them to the bowl. Then, I let that sit for about a half hour.

I used regular spring roll wrappers (this only made like four, so you could double up or triple up the recipe) like so:

Placed a wrapper diagonally so a corner was pointed at me.
Put a couple of tablespoons of filling in the middle of the wrapper, in the bottom third of the wrapper (the lower triangle).
Folded the bottom triangle up over the filling and then rolled the wrapper and filling up one more time.
Brushed egg white on the upper corner and folded down over the filling.
Brushed egg white on both side corners and folded each in towards the center.
Made sure everything was all sealed up.

Once I had made all the spring rolls, I heated a few inchees of oil in
my deep fryer and fried them until golden brown (4 minutes or so).

Then I drained them and let them cool a little. I thought there were
great without dipping sauce, but they'd be great with all kinds of
dipping sauces too. So good.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Blue Margaritas
Last night I wanted take out from Cheesecake Factory, so I didn't really cook at all. I did however, make margaritas. I made blue ones, mostly because the regular tequila was running low.

Poor into a shaker, the following:

juice of two small limes and one small lemon (those mini ones)
4 oz. blue Curaco
4 oz. tarantula tequila
pinch of sugar

Add some ice, shake it around for a few seconds. Strain into martini glasses.

This make 3-4 drinks straight up. Probably 2 served with ice in bar glasses.

I highly recommend trying it.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Chicken Enchiladas
I normally make the chicken enchiladas from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook (you know, the one with the red and white checkers). Last night, I still used that as a guide, but I varied it a bit. And it was a whole lot spicier. In a very good burn your mouth off kind of way. We had it with a Silver Lake Reisling, which P. really likes, and I think is just OK. But then, he likes his wine a little sweeter than I do. Anyway.

I put a couple of chicken breasts in a pot with half a roughly cut-up onion, 4-5 smashed garlic cloves and same random (barely) fresh herbs I happened to have left over. Then, I covered it all with water and simmered it until the chicken was done. I reserved the liquid and took out the chicken to cool.

In the meantime, I sauted half a diced onion with 6 minced garlic cloves in a little butter (I used I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light and it worked fine) with salt and pepper. I added 2 tsp cumin and 1/2 tsp chipotle chile pepper. Then, I added about 12 oz fat-free sour cream mixed with 3 tbl flour. Once that was smooth and bubbly, I added 2 1/2 cups of the chicken stock and a 4 oz can of chopped jalapenos.

I let that simmer for a couple of minutes while I shredded the chicken. Then, I took the sauce off the heat and added about a 1/4 c grated cotija cheese and maybe 1/2 c pepper jack. I mixed between 1/2 and 3/4 c of the sauce with the shredded chicken (just enough to coat). Then, I filled 8 corn tortillas (that I had in a 350 oven for about 15 minutes to soften) with the chicken mixture. I rolled each one up and put them in a 13 x 9 baking dish, sprayed with cooking spray, seam side down. Then, I poured the rest of the sauce on top.

I baked it covered at 350 for 35 minutes. Then, I grated a little more pepper jack on top and put it back in uncovered for about 5 minutes. I chopped up 3 green onions, a tomato, and half an avocado and sprinkled that on top along with a 4 oz can of sliced black olives. Then I let it sit for about 10 minutes.

I also made berry shortcake exactly from this month's Cooking Light cover. Except that I used all blackberries and no blueberries. Very yummy.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Indian Chicken Curry Ish
It's hard to make good Indian food at home. I have a friend from India who promises to teach me, but until then, I've been experimenting. And failing. But I've been trying nearby Indian restaurants and half the time that food is disappointing also. So, I'm not sure whether that means Indian food is so difficult to make that even restaurants can't always do it right, so I should give up, or if it means I should keep trying because I won't do any worse than if I get take out.

Anyway, I tried again today for lunch, and I think this has been my best attempt so far. I sauted some onions and garlic in olive oil. Then, I added maybe a tbl of red curry paste and some cashews. Also maybe a 1/4 cup of brown sugar. I added a can of coconut milk, some red pepper flakes, a little cumin and some garam masala (just a few shakes of each). I then cut up a chicken breast and put that in. I let it all simmer for about 20 minutes until the chicken was cooked. I had it with rice I had cooked with saffron and red pepper flakes.

Spicy. And pretty tasty.
Chicken and Halibut Tacos
Well, more chicken tacos and also halibut tacos actually. P. and I were out wine tasting and I decided I was hungry. He decided he wanted raw oysters and fish tacos. I figured I'd get some chicken. We also thought we'd try some sake, but we know nothing about it, so that didn't go terribly well. Fortunately, we always have tequila on hand.

Anyway, P. shucked the oysters and made the cocktail sauce. I asked him how he made it but he told me it was a secret recipe. "But you can tell me." "If I do, it'll be on the Internet in an hour." Er, yeah maybe. Anyway, I snuck a peak, and turns out it was mostly ketchup, horseradish, lemon, and worcestershire. I think. I added the tequila chaser, but I probably shouldn't have added the cracker. It required extra chewing, and raw oysters really need to be slurped down really quick. That way you're not reminded of the slimy icky texture.

I made basically the same marinade for both the chicken and the halibut: 3 tbl olive oil, 1 tbl soy sauce, 1/2 tsp cumin, 1 tblish chile pepper powder, juice of half a lime. for the chicken, I added a little tequila. I let them sit for a while while we shot oysters and then I sauted them. I added some sliced onions to the chicken.

Then, I chopped some lettuce, tomatoes, and avocado, and sliced some cheese. I heated up some corn tortillas in a pan in a little oil. Then, I just put it all together and topped them with a little fat free sour cream and salsa.

They were so good, I had four. I could have had more. Seriously. And I had two more for breakfast this morning.
Tomato and Ricotta Pasta
I had some sad looking vegetables in my fridge that I wanted to use up yesterday. So, I made some pasta for lunch. All I did was take some garlic and onions (from an old CSA basket), and saute those with some chopped jalapeno in olive oil. Then, I chopped up some fairly old tomatoes, and added those with some salt and pepper and a little oregano. I let that simmer while I boiled some angel hair pasta. Once it was all done, I combined the sauce with the pasta and added some ricotta cheese.

Quick, good, and I was able to make use of vegetables I would have otherwise tossed.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

I'm assuming that no one anxiously awaiting the conclusion of the barbecue extravaganza, so rather than provide the sequel just yet, I'll tell you about the dinner I made the night before last. It was quick and simple and really good.

Italian Chicken Sausage
I know. Just go with it. I had half a pound of ground italian chicken sausage. I browned it as I was starting the soup. And then I used it in both the soup and the sandwich.

Ricotta Sandwich
I started the sandwiches while the potatoes were simmering.

I got really good potato bread and cut the loaf into maybe four sections. I then halved two of the sections (you know, like you would for a sandwich) and then hollowed out some of the bread in both sides. Then, I drizzled olive oil on the inside part of the bread and added ricotta cheese to fill one side that I had hollowed out. I then added salt and pepper, sliced green onions (because that happens to be what I had on hand), some cooked italian sausage, and a few basil leaves. I then put the top on the sandwiches, wrapped them in foil, and baked them at 350 until the soup was done.

Potato Soup
I didn't use any cream in this soup, so it was low fat and yet still good. Amazingly enough. I peeled and cubed four russets and put them in a pot with about five cups of chicken stock. (The chicken stock was from boiling chicken for a chicken pasta the other night.) I added maybe six peeled garlic cloves, some bay leaves, and salt and pepper. I let that simmer until the potatoes were tender. Then, I got a large bowl and a large strainer. I drained the stock into the bowl so the potatoes and garlic were caught in the strainer. Then I used a fork to sort of mash them up. I then put the potatoes and garlic into the stock. Then, in the pot I had simmered the potatoes in, I heated up some olive oil then added about half a chopped onion. Added some salt and pepper. Once the onion was browned, I added back the potato mixture and stirred it all together and simmered it on low for a few minutes.

Meanwhile I made the pesto topping. I just put some basil leaves, garlic, almonds (although you could use pine nuts), and salt and pepper in a food processor and then added some olive oil.

I ladled up the soup into bowls and topped them with a little of the italian sausage and some pesto. This soup was really good but really garlicky. If you're not a big fan of garlic, you could leave it out of the soup itself, since the pesto has plenty.

It was an excellent dinner.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Oklahoma Barbecue

Saveur magazine has a big article on Oklahoma barbecue this month, written by a guy who's family had a place in Oklahoma City when he was growing up. Maybe Oklahoma City does barbecue, but that's not the food I remember as a kid in Oklahoma. The only thing I remember about barbecue is that once I went to the neighbor's and they had frog legs on the barbecue. I didn't stay for dinner. The food I remember from Oklahoma is fried okra (not a fond memory), country fried steak and mashed potatoes, biscuits and gravy, and lots of battered catfish and bass.

Anyway, we did barbecue on Sunday, and things turned out pretty well.

Combine 2 minced garlic cloves, 4 tsp salt, 2 tsp pepper, 2 tsp sugar, 2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme, and 1/4 cup ground chile. I found the ground chile in the Mexican food aisle of the grocery store, with the dried peppers. I actually had to make this twice and went to the store twice. The first time, I got New Mexico chile (medium); the second time, I think it was habanero. Something labeled as "hot" anyway. The second store didn't have anything labeled medium.

I got about four pounds of beef baby back ribs. I rubbed the spice mixture all over both sides (there should be some left over for the sauce) and refrigerated them for about 6 hours. I think the recipe says to marinate for at least 4. We then heat up the coals and when they were ready, moved the coals to each side of the grill, filled a 9 x 13 aluminum pan with water, and put the pan between the coals. Then we put the grill rack back on and put the ribs on. The recipe said to put the ribs on curved side up. And we disagreed as to what that meant. I thought that meant the middle of the curve should be pointing up and P. said that meant the ends of the curve were pointing up. In any case, P. was grilling and I was off drinking wine, so he won. We closed the lid and cooked the ribs for about an hour at about 300 degrees. We soaked about 2 cups of hickory chips in water during that time, and after the hour, put those on the coals and covered the ribs again and cooked them for another 30 minutes or so. Then, we basted everything with sauce and cooked for another ten minutes. Then took the meat off the grill and let it rest for about 15 minutes. They were good. It's a little spicier than Texas barbecue and not quite as sweet. But good.

Combine 2 cups ketchup (heinz), 2/3 cup brown sugar, 4 minced garlic cloves, 3/4 cup water, 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce, 3 tbsp white vinegar, 2 tsp spice (from above), salt and pepper. Simmer over low heat for about 30 minutes.

Baked Beans
These were good, but next time, I might spice them up a bit. Add some bacon, maybe jalapenos. I might combine this with the recipe I pilfered from Rachel Ray. Anyway, I combined half a chopped red bell pepper, 2 cans of pinto beans, 1 cup sauce (above), 2 tbsp brown sugar, 1/2 cup water, and 1 tbsp worcerstershire sauce. I cooked it at 375 for about an hour.

I also made potato salad, deviled eggs, and slaw, but I'll have to post about those later. We liked it all, but keep in mind, we had a bottle and a half of wine between us.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

Mexican Turkey Burgers and Jalapeno Poppers

Friday night, we grilled turkey burgers. The thing with ground turkey is that it tends to end up a lot drier than ground beef. It is leaner after all, and fat is a lot of what makes burgers juicy. There are a couple of tricks for making juicy turkey burgers. You can add moisture to the mix before cooking. And when you cook the burgers, you should resist the urge to flatten them or poke them. That just makes any juice you do have run right out. As for moisture, it depends on the type of burgers you're making. You probably want to give them some kind of flavor.

For instance, you could do Italian burgers: add some ricotta cheese, dried oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix that all together and top the finished burgers with mozzarella.

I did Mexican burgers, and the only liquid I added was worcerstershire sauce. I chopped up a jalapeno and threw that in, then added cumin, chipotle chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper. They would have been best with spicy monterey jack, but I only had cheddar, so I used that. Ideally, I would have topped them with sour cream, avocado slices, some red onion, and maybe tomato. I did have really good rolls, but I ended up going with some Ranch dressing and a little onion.

I also made some quick mashed potatoes. I peeled two russets and quartered them. Then I boiled them until soft with some peeled garlic cloves. I drained all that and mashed it with a potato masher. Then I added a little butter (actually, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter Light), fat-free sour cream, light cream cheese, and salt and pepper.

I also tried the store-bought variety of green kale. It's so not the same as the tender red kale from the CSA basket. For one thing, it takes a lot longer to cook. You don't want the leaves to be chewy. With the CSA kale, I boiled it about five minutes. For this kale, I boiled it for 30, and it should have gone longer. This time, in addition to sauteing it in olive oil, toasted pine nuts, garlic, and shallots, I added some grated parmesan cheese at the end. I think this would be fantastic over fried polenta. Yum. I recommend not putting the store-variety green kale stems in the garbage disposal. No good can come of it. Really. You might just make the disposal grind to a halt, stop up the pipes and cause a water backup that creates a leak big enough that it flodds your entire kitchen. Just saying.

I also made some jalapeno poppers. I'm very fond of the Weight Watchers recipe. I barely modified it. Basically, you take some jalapenos, cut off the stems, cut them in half longwise, and remove the seeds. Then, you mix together a little light mayo, some light cream cheese, and some shredded cheddar. Maybe add some pepper. The ratio I use is 1 tablespoon mayo, 4 oz cream cheese, and 1/4 cup cheese. I think the WW recipe is a little lighter on the cream cheese, but what the hell. Splurge! It's light! That fills around 10 jalapenos (20 halves). Spoon the cheese mixture into the halves. Beat an egg white in a small bowl. Roll a half in the egg white and then coat in crushed corn flakes. I put the corn flakes into a ziplok bag and then throw the popper in there and shake it around. Bake the poppers for about 30 minutes at 350. So good. Really. If you want to dip them, you could use fat-free sour cream or ranch.

Today, I'm doing Oklahoma BBQ. I'll report back.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Variations on a grilled cheese sandwich

A grilled cheese sandwich is one of the world's perfect foods. Sometimes I don't make it the regular way.

The Really Easy, Extra Gooey Sandwich
Butter two pieces of soft white bread. Slice some cheddar. They have to be actual slices, not shredded cheese. Make the sandwich butter side in. Microwave for 45 seconds. The bread and cheese will meld together all gooey and cheesy. This sandwich is best with BBQ potato chips.

The High-Class Sandwich
Get two slices of sourdough bread. Add a little honey mustard to each slice. Then add slices of smoked gouda cheese, a little deli turkey meat (although ham would also work well; I'm just not a big ham fan), some red onions, vine-ripened tomatoes, and a few slices of avocado. Heat a little extra-virgin olive oil in a pan (a grill pan would be best, but any skillet will do). Grill the sandwich on each side for just a couple of minutes -- long enough that each side gets toasty and the cheese melts. This sandwich is best with oven-roasted potatoes, sprinkled with a bit of garlic and rosemary. Maybe some thyme. Some ranch dressing on the side.

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich
This one requires some really good thick bread. Really thick. And good. Also some really good cheese. You might want to go to Wisconsin to get some actually. I'd say get three cheeses: a cheddar, maybe a Swiss, and a Monterey Jack or Colby or something. Get thick slices. Butter the bread on the outside, like for a regular grilled cheese sandwich. Get a few slices of crispy bacon. Add the cheese, the bacon, some sliced red onion, and some sliced tomatoes. You want to have the bacon, onion, and tomato between cheese on both sides. Bread. Cheese. Everything else. Cheese. Bread. Grill on both sides. This sandwich is best with potato salad, the creamy kind that's just a little tart. Probably made with red potatoes with their skins on.

Yum. Really.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

CSA Basket Trials - beyond Canned Veggies

One of the reasons I'm doing the CSA basket is so I can broaden my horizons. Depsite branching out a lot in my adult years, a big chunk of what I know about veggies is still the canned stuff I had as a kid. And since I now know that canned spinach tastes nothing like fresh stuff -- it's not the same food really -- I'm thinking I should check out some other stuff too.

Anyway, this means that I have to make dishes of some kind with everything in the basket. Well, except things that I know I don't like. I've tried asparagus right out of the ground many times, prepared many different ways. And while I now know it doesn't taste like canned asparagus, it still doesn't taste good. Ditto corn.

Last night, I made three things: pototatoes (which uh yeah, I was pretty sure I was going to like), kale, and summer squash. They were all good, but I actually liked the kale the most. And there was only a teeny bit! I need to go to the famer's market and get more (and some fava beans, dammit) and make enough for oh, say a pasta sauce or something.

Anyway, here's what I did.

Potatoes. These were the teeny new potatoes, all covered in dirt. I scrubbed them up, put them in a glass baking dish. Then, I sprinkled whole garlic cloves and sprigs of rosemary around them. I drizzled the whole thing with olive oil, added some salt and pepper, and tosssed it all together. I baked it at 425 for about 45 minutes. I probably should have covered it with foil and cooked it a little longer. That would have kept the garlic from burning

Summer Squash. These were alien looking things (for your viewing pleasure; I've so far gotten pattypan, globe, and scallopini), but I just sliced them up. I added salt and pepper and then sauted them in a little olive oil. I added some of these freakish garlic curls (for the sake of completeness of using the veggies in the basket) and some shallots. Then, I added in some dried basil and italian seasoning to perk things up a little.

Garlic curls are... odd. From what I understand, they're the tops of the garlic with a flowering thing on top (seen here as garlic greens). I had no idea if I was supposed to chop up the stalk like you would green onions? Or eat the bulb part? Or what. My basket newsletter said to use them like asparagus. Well, with asparagus, you eat both the stalk and the top, right? Finally, I looked online and found (well, P. found, while I whined) something that said the stalks taste a little like touch grass, so only eat the flowery bulb part. I compromised. I sliced the flowery bulbs in half and threw them in the pan. Then, I cut smallish sections of the top part of the stalks and threw them in the pan too. After everything had sauted a bit, I added some water and steamed the whole thing until the squash were tender. Sadly, the garlic curl stalks need a bit more time before they're tender. Once they are, they're probably not bad, although I think green onions and garlic still beats it. The tender ones I had were OK though. The hard ones were definitely more like tough grass. Yum. The flower parts were reminiscent of artichoke hearts. Both in taste and texture. The summer squash tasted like, well summer squash. It was really good.

Kale. This surprised me. I didn't think I'd like it. But I did. A lot. I tore all the leaves off the stems and then chopped it all up longwise. Then I boiled it for about five minutes and drained it. I then added it back to the pan with some olive oil, chopped garlic, and chopped shallots. I added some toasted pine nuts and tossed it all around together with some salt and pepper. This was really good. Seriously. Way better than I expected it to be. I ate it on its own as a side dish, but I'm thinking it would be really good as an alternative to pesto on pasta. Try it. You'll like it.