Monday, January 31, 2011

Orange-Yogurt Muffins

This recipe was inspired by a lemon cake in Barefoot Contessa at Home. Instead of butter, these muffins use plain nonfat yogurt, which adds a nice tang. The fat comes from a little vegetable oil. As a result, these are little healthier than most muffins (one has 4 WW points). Once they come out of the oven, brush the tops with an orange simple syrup (it’s made in the microwave)—delicious and easy! I have a couple of ideas to try the next time I make them—drizzle the tops with a little chocolate ganache (who doesn’t like orange paired with chocolate?) and make a variation with grapefruit juice. Enjoy!

Orange-Yogurt Muffins
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup fat-free plain yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. orange zest
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Orange Simple Syrup

1. Combine flour and next 2 ingredients. In another bowl, combine yogurt and next 4 ingredients. Gradually stir flour mixture into yogurt mixture until combined. Stir in vegetable oil until combined. Scoop batter into 24 lightly greased muffin cups.
2. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until done. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and remove muffins from pan. Brush simple syrup over tops of muffins.

Orange Simple Syrup:
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Place sugar and juice in a glass measuring cup. Microwave at HIGH for 3 minutes. Stir until sugar dissolves.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Bell Pepper Sauté

 I needed a quick side dish to serve with Roasted Chicken With Goat Cheese and Herbs and Risotto. The other important consideration: the ingredients had to be in the fridge. So this sauté was born. Many people do not like bell peppers, but if you do, definitely try this dish. Sautéing them in a little olive oil with some thinly sliced red onion caramelizes the pepper and makes them very sweet. This comes together in a snap. Enjoy!

Bell Pepper Sauté
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup thinly sliced red onion
1 garlic clove, minced

2 tsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper

1. Sauté peppers, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until peppers soften and begin to caramelize. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sausage-and-Spinach Manicotti

I have posted this recipe before, but it's worth doing again. The dish comes together in just a few minutes and calls for stuffing uncooked manicotti. The work is done during the hour-long baking time. I like it with just spinach, but Andy prefers the sausage-spinach combination. I use turkey Italian sausage, which you can find next to the pork chops at Publix, to make it leaner. (WW points for 2 manicotti: 10) Enjoy!

Sausage-and-Spinach Manicotti
3 links (about 3/4 lb.) Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
1 (9-oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained
1 (15-oz.) container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. fennel seeds
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 egg
1 box manicotti shells
1 (26-oz.) jar pasta sauce
1/2 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese, divided

1. Cook sausage in a skillet until meat crumbles and is done. Combine sausage, spinach, and ricotta. Stir in next 6 ingredients. Use your hands to stuff manicotti shells with spinach mixture. Arrange manicotti in a 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
2. Pour pasta sauce over manicotti. Fill the jar half full with water; shake to incorporate remaining pasta sauce in jar. Pour water mixture into baking dish. Sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
3. Bake at 375° for 1 hour.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Sweet Potato-and-Yukon Gold Potato Gratin

How can you go wrong with potatoes, onions, and cream? You just can’t—the combination is the ultimate comfort food for me. For dinner tonight, Andy had a steak and I had leftover pork tenderloin from last night’s Cuban Sandwiches. This side dish came together in a snap and paired beautifully with the meat. Steamed broccoli rounded out our menu. I used a combination of cream leftover from a holiday dessert and skim milk, but any type of milk will work. As a finishing touch, I sprinkled a little Parmesan cheese over the top. Using two kinds of potatoes made the dish pretty and delicious. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato-and-Yukon Gold Potato Gratin
1 sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, thinly sliced
1 small onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp. herbs de Provence
Salt and pepper

1/2 cup cream
1/2 cup skim milk

2 Tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Alternate slices of sweet potatoes, onion, and Yukon Gold potatoes in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle garlic cloves over top. Sprinkle with herbs de Provence, salt, and pepper. Pour in cream and milk.
2. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, and bake for 2 additional minutes.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Streusel-Topped Apple Pie

Tonight we celebrated my brother-in-law’s birthday. Per his request, we had Cuban Sandwiches (if you haven’t tried these delicious sandwiches yet, plan to do so soon). For dessert, I decided to make an apple pie because the birthday boy doesn’t really like bakery cakes. This pie was a hit—Russ said it tasted more like a cookie than pie and that was a compliment! We enjoyed ours with butter pecan ice cream. Enjoy!

Streusel-Topped Apple Pie
1 refrigerated piecrust
4 apples, cut in half, cored, and thinly sliced (I used McIntosh.)
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Zest and juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/2 tsp. apple pie spice

6 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2. tsp. almond extract

1. Fit piecrust in 9-inch pieplate. Combine apples, granulated sugar, lemon zest and juice, and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Spoon apple mixture into piecrust.
2. Combine oatmeal and next 4 ingredients. Stir in butter and almond extract. Sprinkle over top of apple mixture.
3. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until done. Serve with ice cream.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Peanut Butter-Toffee Blondies

I have been under the weather this week. Because of that and our wintry precipitation, the Food Network has been on quite a bit. This recipe is from Down Home With the Neelys. Blondies are one of my favorite cookies because they are so easy (just spread the batter in a pan; no scooping required). The peanut butter flavor is subtle, but it pairs nicely with the toffee chips. Next time, I will add chocolate chips to the batter—they need a little more chocolate to balance the other flavors. Enjoy!

Peanut Butter-Toffee Blondies
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
1 package chocolate-covered toffee chips
1 package semisweet chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and next 3 ingredients until light and fluffy. Add in eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Add in milk and vanilla. Combine flour and salt; gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture. Add in toffee chips and chocolate chips. Pour batter into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch pan.
2. Bake at 350° for 40 or until done.

Lazy Fruit Crisp

It’s probably obvious by now that apples and pears are among my favorites to use in desserts. Nothing is as comforting as warm fruit spiced by cinnamon and paired with a buttery crust. I wanted to serve dessert but didn’t have a lot of time to make it, so I decided to make a crisp. This recipe is “lazy” because it comes together with minimal effort. Just chop the apple and pear (no peeling required), stir together the crisp from on-hand ingredients, and then bake until the fruit is soft and everything melds together. Of course, we ate ours with ice cream. Enjoy!

Lazy Fruit Crisp
1 Granny Smith apple, chopped
1 Bartlett pear, chopped
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch of salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup butter, melted

1. Combine apple and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Pour mixture into a pie plate. Combine oatmeal and next 4 ingredients; arrange over top of apple mixture.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until fruit is tender.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Easy Beef Stew

Last week, I made this slow-cooker roast. After removing the roast from the pot, I pureed the vegetable-and-tomato mixture left in the pot and then froze it. This seemed like the perfect base for beef stew. It was so easy—I simply added chunks of potato, celery, and beef to the tomato mixture. Dinner was ready in about 30 minutes, but it tasted like it had cooked all day. The best thing: There is still one more bag of the tomato mixture in the freezer. Enjoy!

Easy Beef Stew
1 onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped
Olive oil
1 lb. boneless stew meat
2 potatoes, cut into cubes
1 bag tomato mixture (about 6 cups), thawed
Salt and pepper

1. Sauté onion and carrots in hot oil for 10 minutes or until slightly tender. Add in beef, and cook until browned on all sides. Stir in potatoes and tomato mixture. Bring mixture to a boil; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Breakfast for Supper

We’re having a “major winter weather event” here in Alabama, so we weren’t able to have dinner with our long-standing Sunday night date—the 3Cs and their parents. I had planned to make nachos—but as the sleet began hitting the windows, Andy was struck with craving for honey and biscuits. So we decided to have breakfast for supper: scrambled eggs, bacon (of course), hashbrowns, and homemade biscuits. Andy made the eggs because I don’t like them and can’t even stand the smell when you pour them into the skillet. I’ve never had good luck with hashbrowns—they don’t get crispy enough—so I decided to make them like potato latkes. This technique worked. After shredding the potatoes, Andy wrapped them in a paper towel and squeezed out the excess moisture. For the biscuits, I turned to The Lee Bros. Cookbook for inspiration (the best thing is that you make the dough in the food processor). The recipe I came up with is based on their Birdhead Biscuits. All in all, we had the perfect dinner for a cold, icy night. Enjoy!

2 Yukon Gold potatoes, shredded
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
Bacon drippings or vegetable oil

1. Place shredded potatoes in a paper towel, and squeeze out all the moisture. Combine potatoes, onions, flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Add to hot drippings in skillet. Cook for 5 minutes on each side or until golden.

Homemade Biscuits
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

1. Combine flour and next 3 ingredients. Place in a food processor bowl; add butter, and pulse until combined. Gradually add buttermilk, pulsing until dough forms a soft bowl. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Roll out dough, and cut into biscuit shapes. Place in a cast-iron skillet. Brush tops with melted butter.
2. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes. Remove from oven, and brush with additional melted butter. Serve hot.

Friday, January 7, 2011

French Onion Soup

This is the perfect cold-night supper! It uses basic ingredients and is very easy to make. How can you go wrong with a rich soup topped with toasted bread and cheese? This version makes enough for three main-dish servings; just multiply it to serve more. Enjoy!

French Onion Soup
1/4 cup butter
2 onions, cut in half and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup red wine
1 (32-oz.) box beef broth
Swiss cheese slices
Sourdough bread slices

1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat; add in onions and garlic, and cook for 20 minutes or until onions are softened and begin to caramelize. Season with salt, pepper, and thyme. Stir in flour, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in 1/2 cup red wine and beef broth. Cook, stirring often, until mixture thickens. Add up to 1/4 cup red wine to taste.
2. Place 1 cheese slice on top of bread slice. Place on a baking sheet, and cook at 400° for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and bread is lightly toasted.
3. Ladle soup into bowls; top with bread slice.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Company Pot Roast

Pot roast is not one of my favorite meals, so I never make it. However Andy really likes it and when I saw this recipe in Barefoot Contessa: Back to the Basics, I decided to try a variation of it. The original calls for the roast to cook in the oven, but I needed it to cook while I was away from home. Therefore this became a slow-cooker meal and you don’t get any easier than that! I reduced the amount of alcohol called for in the original. The depth of flavor is just right. After removing the roast from the slow cooker, I used my immersion blender to puree all the veggies left behind and plan to use the liquid as the base for a tomato-y beef stew. We enjoyed the roast over Cheese Grits made with gouda and Brussels Sprouts With Bacon. Enjoy!

Company Pot Roast
1 (4-lb.) boneless beef chuck roast
Montreal steak seasoning
Olive oil
4 carrots, cut into chunks
2 onions, cut into chunks
4 celery ribs, cut into chunks
3 leeks, cut in half and into chunks
5 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 cups red wine
1 (28-oz.) can whole plum tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock
3 fresh thyme sprigs
3 fresh rosemary sprigs

1. Sprinkle roast on both sides with steak seasoning. Brown roast on all sides in hot oil in a large Dutch oven.
2. Place carrots and next 4 ingredients in bottom of slow cooker. Place roast on top of vegetables. Add in red wine and next 2 ingredients. Place herbs on top of roast.
3. Cook on LOW for 8 hours or until done. Remove roast to a serving platter; puree vegetable mixture, and freeze for another use.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Corn Muffins

 Today for lunch we had down-home comfort food: Meatloaf, Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes, and Green Beans With Bacon. My niece Lizzie helped me make up a new recipe for corn muffins. The great thing about cornbread is that the batter has a lot of liquid, so it stirs together in minutes. Lizzie gave her handiwork her seal of approval—she ate two. Enjoy!

Corn Muffins
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg

1. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients. Combine melted butter and next 2 ingredients. Add liquid to flour mixture, stirring just until combined. Pour into lightly greased muffin cups.
2. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until done.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Sweet-and-Salty Popcorn

Andy and I love popcorn; we usually have it for dinner at least once a week! We make ours on the stove, not in the microwave. Once it's popped, drizzle it with a little melted butter and sprinkle with some kosher salt—delicious! Today we decided to have popcorn for lunch. I added some other ingredients to make it a little fancier. Everyone knows that M&Ms and popcorn are perfect partners, so that was a no-brainer. In addition, I added some roasted cashews, smoked almonds, and a sprinkling of black pepper. There's not a recipe—just throw in a combination that appeals to you. Enjoy!