Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Green Apple Coleslaw

This is the perfect partner for Tilapia Po'boys. It would pair equally as well with other seafood and fish dishes, burgers, or chicken. Preparation is a breeze and the balance of flavors is just right. Enjoy!

Green Apple Coleslaw
1/2 package coleslaw mix
1 Granny Smith apple, cut into thin strips
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. celery seeds
1/2 cup canola oil

1. Combine coleslaw mix and apple in a bowl; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir together vinegar and sugar until sugar dissolves. Add in celery seeds, canola oil, salt and pepper. Pour dressing over coleslaw mixture; toss to coat.

Tilapia Po’boys

Inspiration for tonight’s dinner was simply to make the opposite of Thanksgiving fare! Tilapia was on sale at the grocery store; I coated the fillets with breadcrumbs and baked them. The cute ciabatta rolls came from Walmart and were perfect for these sandwiches. Homemade tartar was spread on the cut sides of the rolls. As accompaniments, we had Green Apple Coleslaw and oven-baked french fries. We'll definitely have this meal again—enjoy!

Tilapia Po’boys
2 (4-oz.) tilapia fillets
Salt and pepper
Greek seasoning
1 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs
Ciabatta rolls
Tartar Sauce

1. Soak fish in buttermilk for 30 minutes. Sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, and Greek seasoning; coat with breadcrumbs. Place fish on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet.
2. Bake at 425° for 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Serve fish on buns with tartar sauce.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Happy Birthday, Hunta!

My mom’s birthday was Saturday and we had a small party for her at Mel’s house tonight. Her friend Florence joined us for dinner; entertainment was provided by AC and LB. Mom requested Black Bean Nachos for dinner. In addition, we had Easy Queso, Guacamole Salad, and birthday cake—yummy!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I love carrot cake—in fact, it's the flavor I chose for my wedding cake! However I'm not good at layer cakes; they are always lopsided and the frosting looks bad. So cupcakes are much better for me. This recipe is from Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller. The cake has a light texture. The recipe for the frosting made way too much, so I scaled it back and still ended up with enough to frost 24 more cupcakes. To get the right texture for the carrots, I grated them with my food processor and then used the knife blade to finely chop them. Enjoy!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla paste or vanilla extract
1 cup canola oil
1/4 cup milk
2 cups cake flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cinnamon
5 carrots, finely shredded
1 cup chopped pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Beat oil and sugars with a mixer. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition. Add in vanilla and milk. Combine cake flour and next 3 ingredients; gradually add to sugar mixture. Stir in carrots and pecans. Scoop batter into lightly greased muffin pans.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely; spread frosting on top of cooled cupcakes.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 (8-oz.) blocks cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 (16-oz.) box powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste or extract

1. Beat cream cheese and butter with a mixer. Gradually beat in powdered sugar until mixture achieves spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes

Most families have a similar must-serve buttery pecan-topped sweet potato dish for the holidays. This version is from my mother-in-law who got it from her daughter’s mother-in-law. My original recipe is long gone, so I make it differently each year. Even though I get tired of making it, my family never gets tired of eating it. In fact my niece Lizzie thanked me for “making the BEST sweet potatoes EVER!” Enjoy!

Senator Russell’s Sweet Potatoes
4 sweet potatoes
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tsp. cinnamon (optional)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork. Bake at 425° for 45 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. Remove from oven, and allow to cool completely. Peel potatoes, and place in a bowl. Mash potatoes; stir in sugar, eggs, butter, vanilla, zest and juice, and, if desired, cinnamon. Pour mixture into a lightly greased baking dish.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, combine brown sugar and next 2 ingredients in a skillet. Cook, stirring often, until butter melts and sugar dissolves. Spread brown sugar mixture over top of sweet potato mixture.
4. Bake at 30° for 10 more minutes.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Here's a super-simple and savory side dish that combines sweet potatoes and red potatoes. This would be a terrific substitute for regular mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving or anytime, for that matter. The chives add a nice hint of onion without being overpowering. If you have some cooked, crumbled bacon on hand, it would be a nice addition. I served this side with Fried Chicken Tenders and Chopped Apple Salad. (I know we eat this salad all the time, but it’s so good!) Enjoy!

Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
2 red potatoes, cut into cubes
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 to 1 Tbsp. dried chives

1. Place potatoes in a Dutch oven; add water to cover. Bring to a boil, and add salt to water. Cook until potatoes are tender; drain and return to pan. Mash potatoes, and stir in buttermilk until desired consistently. Add in butter and chives, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Honey Pecan Squares

My neighbor gave me some pecans early this week. At first I planned to make a pecan pie but then decided to make a twist on the classic. This recipe was inspired by one in The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. The original calls for eight sticks of butter! That seemed excessive even to me, so I paired it back significantly. There are three unusual ingredients—lemon and orange zest and honey. You can’t taste the flavor of the zest, but it gives a brightness to the bars. The honey is used in the caramel topping and definitely comes through in the taste. My family gave these squares rave reviews at our Thanksgiving gathering. Enjoy!

Honey Pecan Squares
2 1/4 cups butter, softened and divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
Zest from 1 lemon
Zest from 1 orange
2 Tbsp. cream
2 cups chopped pecans

1. Beat 1 1/4 cups butter and granulated sugar with a mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until combined. Line a half-sheet pan with parchment paper. Lightly flour your hands, and spread batter in prepared pan, creating ridges around the perimeter (the batter didn't fill the whole pan).
2. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes; cool.
3. Meanwhile combine remaining 1 cup butter, honey, and next 3 ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until butter melt, stirring often. Increase heat, and bring mixture to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in cream and pecans. Pour pecan mixture over prepared crust.
4. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until filling is set. Cool completely, and cut into squares.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Orange-Glazed Salmon

We are enjoying a few days’ respite at the beach. This is the best time of the year to be here! The beach and restaurants are practically empty but the weather is warm enough to enjoy sitting outside and reading. Tonight instead of going out, I decided to cook. We had this delicious salmon, Parmesan Cheese Grits (just add freshly grated Parmesan to my basic grits recipe), and steamed broccoli. The whole meal was ready in about 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Orange-Glazed Salmon
1 Tbsp. butter
1 shallot or small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Salmon fillets
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Parmesan Cheese Grits
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh dill

1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Sauté shallot in 5 minutes or until tender; add garlic, and cook 1 minute. Add salmon, skin side down, and cook 2 to 3 minutes; turn over, and remove skin. Add in orange zest and juice. Cook salmon 2 to 3 additional minutes or until fish flakes with a fork. Spoon grits onto plates; top with salmon, and drizzle with orange sauce; sprinkle with dill. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Zucchini Pancakes

Potato pancakes (latkes) are one of my favorite foods, so this recipe in Barefoot Contessa at Home was a must-try! Zucchini was a staple in my farmers market basket and I wished I had found this sooner. Oh well, there’s always next year! The zucchini version is easier than the potato ones because you don't have to squeeze all the water out of the vegetable. I served these pancakes with Everything-But-The-Kitchen-Sink Soup. All in all, this is a pretty healthful side dish. Enjoy!

Zucchini Pancakes
2 zucchini
2 Tbsp. grated red onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1. Grate the unpeeled zucchini with the large holes on a box grater. Stir together zucchini and next 2 ingredients. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients; stir into zucchini mixture.
2. Melt half of butter and oil in a large skillet; drop batter into skillet with a large (2-Tbsp.) cookie scoop. Cook pancakes 2 minutes on both sides or until golden. Repeat procedure with remaining batter, butter, and oil. Serve warm.

Monday, November 15, 2010

German Potato Salad #2

I've posted a recipe for this warm potato salad in the past but decided to revisit it tonight. I love the vinegary, slightly sweet, smoky flavor of this dish. It has bacon in it, so how can you go wrong? This comes together easily and in less than 30 minutes. Instead of granulated sugar, I decided to use brown sugar instead. This adds a more caramelized flavor to the onion-and-bacon mixture. Enjoy!

German Potato Salad #2
1 1/2 lb. small red potatoes, cut into quarters
4 bacon slices, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup hot water
1 Tbsp. coarse-grained mustard
Salt and pepper

1. Place potatoes in a Dutch oven, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, and cook until potatoes are fork tender. Drain and wipe out bottom of Dutch oven. Cook bacon in Dutch oven for 5 minutes. Add in chopped onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until bacon is cooked and onions are softened. Stir in vinegar and next 2 ingredients, and cook until liquid begins to reduce and thicken. Return potatoes to Dutch oven, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.

Balsamic Vinaigrette-Marinated Pork Chops

I had some Balsamic Vinaigrette left over from this salad and thought using it as a marinade would be tasty. Pork chops seemed like a good choice. I marinated the pork in the leftover vinaigrette for 8 hours before cooking them. In addition to the chops, we had Roasted Brussels Sprouts With Bacon and German Potato Salad #2. Enjoy!

Balsamic Vinaigrette-Marinated Pork Chops
4 bone-in pork chops
Balsamic Vinaigrette

1. Place pork in a zip-top bag; pour in vinaigrette. Marinate in the refrigerator at least 8 hours.
2. Heat an oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat. (There's no need to add oil to the pan—there is some in the vinaigrette.) Remove pork chops from marinade, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Sear both sides in hot skillet.
3. Bake at 400° for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. country-style Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
3/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Combine vinegar and next 2 ingredients. Gradually add in olive oil, combining completely. Stir in salt and pepper to taste.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sweet Potato Wedges

Sweet potatoes are a terrific partner for steak, which was on the menu tonight, and this simple side was just the ticket. Roasting the sweet potatoes creates a crispy outside and tender inside. The only ingredients besides the potatoes are olive oil, salt, and pepper. Another plus: There's no need to peel the sweet potatoes; once roasted, the peel comes right off. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Wedges
3 to 4 sweet potatoes, cut into wedges
Olive oil

1. Place sweet potato wedges on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
2. Bake at 425° for 20 minutes or until done, turning once. Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Chicken Chili

Chili makes the perfect meal as the weather cools. I like beef chili and white chicken chili but wanted to make something different, so I came up with the idea to make a tomato-based chicken chili that combines the best of both. In addition to the expected seasonings of chili powder and cumin, I included a little cinnamon, which adds a nice depth of flavor. This recipe has a little heat to it, but it's not overwhelming. To up the nutritional value but avoid chunky veggies like you would find in soups, I pureed the onion, celery, and carrots in the food processor—this contributes to the thick consistency. All in all, I think the flavors are well balanced. On the side, I served Jalapeño Corn Muffins. Enjoy!

Chicken Chili
1 onion, quartered
2 carrots, cut in half
2 celery ribs, cut in half
2 garlic cloves
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 (4-oz.) cans fire-roasted chopped green chiles
2 lb. chicken, cut into chunks
1 (28-oz.) can tomato puree
6 to 7 cups chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. cinnamon

1. Puree onion and next 3 ingredients in food processor. Cook veggies in hot olive oil for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add in chiles, and cook 3 more minutes. Add in chicken, and cook, stirring occasionally, 15 to 20 minutes or until chicken is done. Stir in tomatoes and next 2 ingredients; season with salt and pepper. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly heated. Taste and add more seasoning, if needed.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Best Cookies

This is the third time I've posted this recipe from my friend Cindy since I started my blog in 2008 (once each fall). If you haven't tried these cookies yet, you have to stop everything and make them now! They have a delicate texture and perfectly spiced flavor. If you think you don't like pumpkin, these will change your mind. The recipe is super easy, especially my microwave method for making the frosting. There are no excuses for not making them. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup pumpkin
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
Brown Sugar Frosting

1. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in pumpkin (mixture will look slightly curdled); beat in egg and vanilla.
2. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended.
3. Bake at 350° for 9 minutes. Cool on pans 10 minutes; remove to wire racks, and spread Brown Sugar Frosting over tops of warm cookies.

Brown Sugar Frosting:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. butter
4 tsp. milk
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

1. Combine brown sugar and next 2 ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir mixture; microwave for 45 more seconds or until brown sugar is dissolved. Stir in powdered sugar and vanilla. Use immediately.