Sunday, March 29, 2009

Apple Coleslaw

This combination of flavors was just right with the pork in the Cuban Sandwiches. Very easy! I'll definitely make this again (and add some blue cheese).

Apple Coleslaw
1/2 bag shredded cabbage
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil

1. Combine cabbage and next 3 ingredients in a bowl. In a large measuring cup, stir together vinegar and next 4 ingredients; stir until sugar dissolves and mixture is combined. Pour vinegar mixture over cabbage mixture, tossing to coat.

Slow-Cooker Pork Tenderloin

I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer and decided I wanted to use it to make Cuban Sandwiches. To cook the tenderloin, I used the same process I use for chicken breasts. The orange juice gave the pork great flavor. Because it cooked low and slow in the slow cooker, it was very easy to shred the pork with two forks to use on the sandwiches. My brother-in-law and I agree that this pork tenderloin really made the sandwiches!

Slow-Cooker Pork Tenderloin
Pork tenderloin
Garlic powder
Orange juice
1/4 cup butter

1. Sprinkle pork with next 4 ingredients. Place in slow-cooker. Pour in orange juice; add in butter. Cook at LOW for 6 to 8 hours or until done. Shred meat using 2 forks, if desired.

Cuban Sandwiches
1 loaf ciabatta bread, cut in half
Yellow mustard
1 (8-oz.) block Swiss cheese, shredded
1/2 lb. sliced ham
Shredded pork tenderloin
Dill pickle relish
Bread-and-butter pickle sandwich slices

1. Hollow out each half of ciabatta. Spread mustard on cut sides of bread. Sprinkle each half evenly with cheese. Spread dill pickle relish on one half; layer bread-and-butter pickles on other half. Top one bread half with ham slices; top other half with shredded pork. Put the halves together; wrap in aluminum foil.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cheese melts and sandwich is thoroughly heated. Cut into 4 pieces.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Easy Quesadillas

Creative use of leftovers was my theme this evening. To make quesadillas, I used the leftover turkey filling from last night's Tex-Mex Calzones and the beef-and-bean mixture from Texas-Style Beef Nachos, which I had frozen earlier in the month. The easiest way to make quesadillas is to bake them in the oven; the ability to flip a fully loaded quesadilla in a skillet is a skill I'm lacking, so I improvised.

Easy Quesadillas
1. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and then coat the foil with vegetable cooking spray. Place four flour tortillas on the pan, and top with the meat mixture. Sprinkle with cheese (I used a combination of colby-Jack and Monterey Jack with peppers), and top each with a flour tortilla. Coat the top tortillas with cooking spray.
2. Bake at 400° for about 15 or 20 minutes. Cut into quarters with a pizza cutter. Serve with sour cream and Black Bean Salad.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tex-Mex Calzones With Black Bean Salad

Dinner tonight was inspired by two recipes in the March 2009 issue of Cooking Light. I put my own spin on them based on personal taste preferences and what I had on hand. This combo is very easy (ready in about 30 minutes), pretty healthful, and yummy! This will definitely be on the menu rotation again. I plan to freeze the leftover meat mixture to make more calzones or use in quesadillas or on nachos. Cost per serving: $2.50

Tex-Mex Calzones
1 lb. ground turkey
1/2 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. dried cilantro or 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro
Salt to taste
1 can diced tomatoes and green chiles
1 round pizza dough (I used the dough from Publix.)
1/2 (8-oz.) block colby-Jack cheese, shredded
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Cook turkey and next 6 ingredients in a Dutch oven until meat crumbles and veggies are tender. Stir in tomatoes and green chiles; cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed.
2. Divide pizza dough into 3 pieces. Roll out each piece of dough to form a 6-inch (or so) circle. Spoon about 1/2 cup meat mixture on one side of dough circle; top with shredded cheese. Fold dough over filling, crimping edges to seal. Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 425° for 18 to 20 minutes or until calzone is golden brown. Serve with sour cream, if desired.

Black Bean Salad
2 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1/4 cup finely chopped bell pepper
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
Juice of 1 lime
Juice of 1 orange
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine first 8 ingredients in a bowl; stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon

You are probably thinking that there is no way you would cook Brussels sprouts, much less eat them. However, you are wrong. I never had this vegetable growing up (it's not very Southern), but a few years ago I made it for Thanksgiving and have loved it ever since. Bacon is the key though!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon
3 bacon slices, chopped
1 lb. Brussels sprouts, cut into quarters
Salt and pepper
Juice from 1 lemon or lime

1. Sauté bacon in a cast iron skillet until it begins to cook through. Stir in Brussels sprouts, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Stir in salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Cook 5 more minutes.
2. Bake at 400° for 10 minutes.

Potatoes and Sour Cream Gratin

I wanted to make scalloped potatoes to go with the Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders, however, I didn't feel like making a béchamel sauce and I was out of cream (shocking, I know). So this was my improvisation. The sour cream separated a bit, but the taste was good. It reminded me of mashed potatoes with buttermilk.

Potatoes and Sour Cream Gratin
4 Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into thin slices (There's no need to peel these because the skin is very thin.)
1/4 onion, cut into thin slices
Salt and pepper
Sour cream
1 (8-oz.) block Cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Place one layer of potato slices in bottom of a lightly greased baking dish. Top with some of the onion slices; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread half of sour cream over top; top with half of cheese. Repeat layers once. Sprinkle panko on top of cheese.
2. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders

Back in the good old days when we would have lunch catered in at work, we would have pecan chicken from a local cafe. Dinner tonight was inspired by that memory. I served the chicken with Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and Potato-Sour Cream Gratin (I'll post these recipes tomorrow). To finely chop the pecans, I used this contraption I bought at a yard sale years ago for just that purpose. However, I didn't want the pecans to have all the same texture, so I chopped a handful of them with a knife. The prep and cook time totaled about 30 minutes.

Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
3/4 cup pecans
Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
Salt and black pepper
1 package chicken tenderloins
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Finely chop 1/2 cup pecans and coarsely chop 1/4 cup pecans. Combine in a shallow dish. In another dish, combine panko, salt, and pepper. Place buttermilk in a third shallow dish.
2. Roll each chicken tenderloin in the panko mixture. Dip in buttermilk. Roll in pecan mixture. Place on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
3. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until chicken is done.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Shark Cupcakes

Our niece Cameron turned 10 yesterday. To celebrate, Andy made these cute shark, life preserver, and school of fish cupcakes for dessert. This is our first attempt from Hello, Cupcake! book. He did a great job! Cameron and her brothers were big fans of his pastry chef skills.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Creamy Fettuccine With Turkey Meatballs

This is based on a 2003 recipe from SL. It is light: Reduced-fat cream cheese is the key to the decadent creaminess. I use mushrooms, but you could omit them if you prefer. It used to be hard to find ground turkey or chicken in the grocery store; that's not really true anymore. When neither ground turkey or chicken is available, make your own by grinding boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the food processor. Dinner was on the table in less than 45 minutes. Cost per serving: $1.50

Creamy Fettuccine With Turkey Meatballs
1 (16-oz.) package fettuccine (Whole wheat pasta will also work well.)
1 1/2 lb. ground turkey or chicken
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large egg
1/2 sleeve crackers, crushed (I used Townhouse crackers.)
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
Salt and pepper
Vegetable cooking spray
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
1 tsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 cups chicken stock
1 (8-ounce) package reduced-fat cream cheese
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Cook pasta according to package directions; drain pasta.
2. Stir together ground turkey and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls. Place a rack coated with cooking spray in an aluminum foil-lined broiling pan. Arrange meatballs on rack; lightly spray meatballs with cooking spray.
4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until golden and thoroughly cooked.
5. Sauté mushrooms and garlic in hot oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat mushrooms are tender. Sprinkle with flour; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute. Whisk in broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes. Add cream cheese, whisking until smooth and sauce is thickened.
6. Add meatballs, red pepper, and parsley to sauce; simmer 10 minutes. Toss in pasta.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Apple-Blue Cheese Chopped Salad

You have to try this salad! It has just the right balance of flavors—sweet, salty, vinegary, savory. It's from my friend Mary Leigh. Tonight I served it with French Onion Soup that my mother-in-law made and brought with her from Huntsville, but it would be great paired with almost anything. I love the combination of fruit and blue cheese, and it's great to have an alternative to Baby Blue Salad. For a summer main dish, you could slice grilled chicken to serve on it. Bacon would also be a nice addition.

Apple-Blue Cheese Chopped Salad
1 head green leaf lettuce, chopped
1/4 red or sweet onion, finely chopped
1 green apple, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1/2 (9-oz.) bag bagel or pita chips, crushed
1/2 cup toasted chopped pecans
Poppy Seed Dressing

1. Combine lettuce and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss to combine. Gently toss in dressing just before serving.

Poppy Seed Dressing
I have found that mason jars are the best container for making vinaigrettes.
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 tsp. poppy seeds

1. Combine sugar and next 3 ingredients in a jar. Cover and shake until sugar dissolves a bit and mixture combines. Pour in oil; shake to combine. Stir in poppy seeds.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Yesterday morning when I woke up, I decided I really wanted to make beignets. Full disclosure: For some reason I have never actually had beignets, but I knew I would like them. Who doesn't like fried dough? So I got out Joy of Cooking to find out what was involved. The recipe below is based on that. Mine took all kinds of different shapes, not just circles. I had some commas, some gourd-shaped ones, and the first efforts were basically mini funnel cakes. I made them last night for my sister and her family and then refrigerated the extra batter. The ones I made tonight from the refrigerated dough worked a little better. I'll definitely made these again. (This recipe makes enough for a party; I recommend quartering or halving it if you are only serving a few.)

2 cups water
1 cup butter
8 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
12 eggs
4 tsp. vanilla extract
Peanut or vegetable oil
Powdered sugar

1. Combine water and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Stir in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes together. Cook, stirring constantly, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and transfer to a bowl. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, with an electric mixer 2 to 3 minutes after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
2 Pour oil to a depth of 2 inches in a Dutch oven. Heat oil to 365°. Drop in tablespoonfuls of batter, in batches, and cook beignets until puffed and golden on all sides. Remove from oil, and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Serve warm.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Apple Compote

I made Buttermilk Pancakes this morning. Instead of topping them with syrup, I decided to be fancy and make Apple Compote. The recipe I developed is simple, but it's yummy. For depth of flavor, I used a combination of cinnamon and allspice. This fruit mixture would be good served over pound cake and ice cream. It would also make a nice filling for apple turnovers. You could also sauté chopped onion with the apples, add a bit of balsamic vinegar, and serve it over roasted or grilled pork chops. Pork chops and applesauce, anyone? (Note: Pears would be an equally tasty substitution.)

Apple Compote
2 apples, halved, cored (I use my handy melon baller), and chopped
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Stir in apples and remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until apples are very tender and liquid resembles syrup. Serve warm.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Greek-Style Tilapia

There is a Greek cafe around the corner from our house that has a tilapia special on occasion. If we go for dinner, Andy always orders it. Fish cooks up very quickly, so it's great for a busy weeknight but it also feels a little bit special. I came up with my own version of the restaurant dish Andy likes so much. It comes together in about 15 minutes. I served it with Mashed Potatoes and steamed broccoli. Cost per serving: $2.50

Greek-Style Tilapia
1 shallot, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
Greek seasoning
1 lb. tilapia fillets
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
Black pepper to taste

1. Sauté shallot and garlic in hot oil in a large skillet 1 minute. Sprinkle tilapia fillets with Greek seasoning. Place fish in skillet. Cook 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until fish becomes opaque. Sprinkle with oregano. Stir in tomatoes, olives, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fried Frog Legs

Yep, you read that correctly. It's Tuesday night, so that means my father-in-law is in town. This past weekend he helped cook for a wild game dinner at his church. (Sounds very manly, doesn't it?) One of the hors d'oeuvres: fried frog legs. There were some of the hopping amphibians' legs left over, so my f-o-l decided to bring them for us to have tonight. I dutifully fried them (I am happy to say none of them "jumped" in the pot) and then served them to the boys. My f-o-l really likes them. Andy tried one, declared that it tasted like fish but had the texture of chicken, and that one was plenty. Surprisingly I found Andy's description less than appetizing, so I declined and ate leftover pizza instead.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Creamy Chicken and Noodles

I originally posted this recipe back in January, but I have made it several times since then and have come up with the right combination of ingredients. (The original is no longer on the blog.) This recipe is super-simple and yummy. If you need a dish to take a sick friend or a potluck, this is a good option. It's just-right comfort food! Cost per serving: $1.50 (Note: The pictured recipe doesn't have broccoli in it, but I highly recommend adding it.)

Creamy Chicken and Noodles
1 (12- or 16-oz.) package egg noodles (I've used both sizes with the same amount of other ingredients.)
4 cups chopped cooked chicken
1 (0.7-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix
3 cups whipping cream
1 (10-oz.) bag frozen broccoli florets
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook egg noodles according to package directions. Drain and return to pot. Stir in chicken, next 4 ingredients, and, if desired, salt. Stir in 1/2 cup or so Parmesan cheese. (If you are taking this to someone, pour into a large bowl and refrigerate.) Pour mixture into a 13- x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.
2. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Baked Ziti

This delicious recipe came together simply. I didn't have any ricotta on hand, but next time I think I would use some to make the dish creamy. I served it with steamed broccoli and Peppery Cheese Muffins.

Baked Ziti
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. ground round
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (26-oz.) jar pasta sauce
1 (16-oz.) box ziti, cooked
1 (28-oz.) can whole tomatoes
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1 (8-oz.) bag shredded Italian cheese blend

1. Sauté onion and meat in a large Dutch oven, cooking until onion is tender and meat crumbles and browns. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Stir in pasta sauce and tomatoes (break up tomatoes with spoon). Stir in salt and next 6 ingredients. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese. Pour mixture in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cheese.
2. Bake at 400° for 15 minutes.

Peppery Cheese Muffins
Makes 6 muffins
1 cup self-rising flour
2 Tbsp. butter, diced
1 cup Colby-Jack cheese, shredded
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
1 egg, lightly beaten

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients until blended. Stir in egg. Add in buttermilk until mixture has the consistency of cake batter. Scoop into lightly greased muffin cups.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until done. Serve warm.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Texas-Style Beef Nachos

Tonight I used the leftover Pot Roast from yesterday instead of ground beef in my standby Black Bean Nachos. Our nieces Anna Claire and Lizzie were here for dinner. They liked the corn tortillas before we made chips and liked the chips themselves, but they "didn't love" the nachos. So they had spoonfuls of sour cream instead. Yum!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast With Vegetables

This is a first! I've never been a big fan of roast beef. It tends to be dry and tasteless. However I saw this recipe in the 2004 SL Annual Recipes and decided to try it. As is typical for me, I didn't actually read the recipe until I had everything in the slow cooker. :) Turns out, it's not actually a slow-cooker recipe. But that's how I made it and it was good. The meat was moist and tender and the veggies were just right. Following is the method I used. (Note: You are supposed to sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper. Then brown the meat on all sides in hot oil in a large skillet before placing it in the slow cooker. However at 4:30 this morning, I didn't want to smell meat, so I skipped the browning step. It worked fine this way, but browning will caramelize the beef a bit and add depth of flavor.) Cost per serving: $2

Slow-Cooker Pot Roast With Vegetables
1.5 lb. small red potatoes
1 (1-lb.) bag baby carrots
1 onion, cut in large chunks
Salt and pepper
1 (3-lb.) chuck roast
1 (0.7-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix
1 (12-oz.) bottle beer or 1 1/2 cups beef broth

1. Place potatoes, carrots, and onion pieces on bottom of slow cooker; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place roast on top of veggies, and sprinkle with Italian dressing mix. Pour beer over meat in slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 8 to 10 hours or until meat and veggies are tender.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Split Pea Soup

This soup sounds like the stuff of fairy tales, like porridge, not really something you would eat. I read a recipe for it in the January or February issue of Martha Stewart Living and decided to give it a try. Split peas are just dried beans, which I really like; the soup's flavor comes from onions, celery, carrots, and diced ham steak. (I also added some chopped bacon, for good measure.) The smoky, earthy flavor was spot on, and I have a feeling it will be even better as leftovers. Soup season is almost over, but I'll definitely bring back this recipe next fall. (Cost per serving: $1.80)

Split Pea Soup
1 onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (6-oz.) ham steak
3 slices bacon, chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 dried bay leaf
1 lb. dried split peas
4 cups chicken stock
4 cups water

1. Sauté onion, celery, and carrots in hot oil until vegetables are soft (about 10 minutes). Stir in garlic, ham, and bacon, and cook until meat begins to brown. Stir in salt and next 5 ingredients. Stir in chicken stock and water. Return to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 55 minutes or until split peas are softened.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nutter Butter Banana Pudding

This recipe is from the February issue of Southern Living. I made it for our niece's Grace's birthday in January and then made it for Andy's birthday. This time I served it in a trifle bowl, which made a pretty presentation. Our niece Cameron was a big fan!

Fried Chicken Tenders

Andy is a Leap Year baby. Because his actual birthday only comes around once every four years (this year he's 9 1/4), I make a point to celebrate his birthday in a special way. This year our nieces and nephews (and their parents) who live in town came over for a meal of Andy's choice. He asked for homemade fried chicken tenders, oven-baked tater tots, and Slow-Cooker Green Beans. My brother-in-law said these chicken tenders are among the best he's had. They are worth the effort (which is pretty minimal).

Fried Chicken Tenders
Boneless chicken breast tenderloins (if you can't find them precut, buy boneless chicken breasts and cut them yourself.)
All-purpose flour
Cracked black pepper
Japanese breadcrumbs (panko)
Peanut oil
Honey Mustard

1. Place chicken tenderloins in a large bowl. Pour in buttermilk to cover. (See photo.) Marinate in buttermilk in refrigerator for 2 hours.
2. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place panko in another shallow dish.
3. Roll chicken in flour mixture and then in panko. Place on baking sheet; repeat procedure with remaining chicken tenders.
4. Meanwhile, heat peanut oil in a large Dutch oven (about 2 inches of oil) until hot. Carefully cook chicken tenders, in batches, 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on a paper towel-lined serving platter. Serve with Honey Mustard.

Honey Mustard
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/2 cup honey

1. Stir together mustard and honey until thoroughly combined.