Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crunchy Granola

Serve with yogurt and fruit or as a cereal with milk.
4 cups old-fashioned oats
2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup roasted unsalted almonds
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
1 cup dried blueberries

1. Combine oats and next 2 ingredients on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Whisk together oil and next 4 ingredients. Drizzle over top of oats mixture. Gently stir to combine.
2. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until mixture is golden and liquid is absorbed. Remove from oven, and cool completely.
3. Stir in dried cranberries and blueberries into oats mixture. Store in an airtight container.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Mini Ham, Spinach, and Cheese Frittatas

Let me start by saying that I don’t like egg dishes and never cook them. Don’t get me wrong—I want to like eggs and have even made myself try them, but no luck. Today I was brainstorming new breakfast ideas for Grace’s Kitchen and decided it was time to try a frittata. This is just a fancy name for a egg dish that combines meat, veggies, and cheese—whatever you like—in a large skillet that gets baked in the oven. I decided to combine chopped ham, chopped spinach, and shredded cheese with the egg mixture and then bake individual frittatas in muffin pans. When the frittatas were done, I got a little nervous about tasting one, but I knew I had to. And I did—and liked it! Huge accomplishment for me! The muffin pans worked very well and gave each frittata a nice brown edge. My friend Kylie taste-tested one for me and suggested I scale back on the salt just a bit. She also thinks chopped peppers would be a good addition. This recipe is very versatile—definitely try it for breakfast or supper. Enjoy!

Mini Ham, Spinach, and Cheese Frittatas
This amount makes 10 to 12 individual frittatas.
6 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. chopped dried chives (Fresh would be delicious, but I didn’t have any.)
1 cup chopped smoked ham
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach

1. Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Stir in ham and remaining ingredients. Pour egg mixture into lightly greased muffin cups. (Be careful not to overfill.)
2. Bake at 425° for 14 minutes or until centers are set. Serve hot.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Roasted Pear Salad With Goat Cheese

This salad tastes like fall in a bowl! I paired sweet roasted pears with creamy goat cheese and spicy-and-sweet pecans. For the dressing, I used my favorite vinaigrette. (Cooked, crumbled bacon would be a great addition, and blue cheese would be a good substitution for the goat cheese.) Yummy!

Roasted Pear Salad With Goat Cheese
3 pears, cored and cut into thin slices
1 head green leaf lettuce, chopped
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
Sweet-and-Spicy Pecans
Balsamic Vinaigrette

1. Bake pears on a aluminum foil-lined baking sheet at 400° for 10 minutes or until slightly softened and warm.
2. Toss together pears, lettuce, and next 2 ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sweet Potato Turnovers

We hosted our supper club tonight and, as always, I wanted a new dessert to serve our friends. Because the weather has been so lovely and fall-like this week, sweet potato turnovers seemed just the thing. My inspiration came from the recipe for sweet potato fried pies in Chris and Idie Hastings’s Hot and Hot Fish Club Cookbook. One of the best things about this book is that all the recipes are organized by season; the fried pies are in the one for September & October. I definitely love fried pies but decided to bake these because my frying pot was already in use. These are pretty easy to make, but the dough does need to rest in the fridge, so don’t wait till the last minute. These turnovers are delicious and would be a great addition to our Thanksgiving menu. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Turnovers
1 1/2 lb. sweet potatoes
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 cup cold butter, cut into cubes
1/2 cup ice water
4 Tbsp. melted butter
6 Tbsp. brown sugar plus more for sprinkling
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 Tbsp. orange liqueur
1 egg
1 Tbsp. water

1. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake at 375° for 1 hour or until done. Cool completely.
2. Place flour and next 4 ingredients in food processor bowl. Pulse until mixture is combined and resembles coarse sand. With processor running, gradually add ice water through food chute. Process until dough forms a ball. Wrap dough in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.
3. Peel sweet potatoes, and place potatoes in a bowl. Stir in butter, 6 Tbsp. brown sugar, and next 3 ingredients.
4. Divide dough round in half, and then divide each half into 5 pieces. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to form a circle. Spoon some of sweet potato mixture onto one side of dough circles. Fold over dough, and crimp edges. Place turnovers on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Combine egg and water; brush over tops of turnovers, and sprinkle with brown sugar.
5. Bake at 400° for 25 minutes or until golden and done. Serve warm with ice cream.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Key Lime Bars

Andy loves Key lime pie and when I saw fresh Key limes at the store last week, I decided to make a variation of his favorite dessert. Instead of a graham cracker crust, I used made a shortbread crust. The buttery richness is a perfect foil for the tart filling, which was inspired by the cherry-lemon pie my grannie makes for all family gatherings. It’s a simple combination of cream cheese, sweetened condensed milk, and fresh key lime juice. Very easy to make and delicious to boot!

Key Lime Bars
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1 can fat-free sweetened condensed milk
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice

1. Beat butter in a medium bowl with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in sugar and vanilla until blended. Combine flour and salt, and gradually beat into butter mixture.
2. Press dough into a greased, parchment paper-lined square baking pan. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until done. Set aside, and allow to cool completely.
3. Beat sweetened condensed milk and next 2 ingredients until combined and smooth. Spread over top of shortbread. Chill for 2 hours, and cut into squares.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Homemade Salsa

Our neighbor Mrs. H gave us a ton of ripe tomatoes earlier this week, and I needed to do something with them quickly. The solution: Make and can some homemade salsa. After reading several recipes online and not really liking any of them, I decided to come up with my own. Every thing I read recommended peeling the tomatoes, and I wasn’t looking forward to putting an “X” in the bottom of each tomato, placing each one in a pot of boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes, and then pulling the peel off. However, my serrated vegetable peeler saved me from this time-consuming job. The peeler is great for peeling peaches, so it made sense that it would work on tomatoes as well—and it did. The serrated edge is key; a regular peeler wouldn’t work. The other thing I learned is that 20 tomatoes yield 6 half-pints. My second foray into canning was a success (here’s my first), so I’ll definitely try it again.

Homemade Salsa
20 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
3 onions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
3 jalapeño peppers, minced
Juice from 6 limes
Salt and pepper to taste
3/4 to 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
6 half-pint jars
6 rings and lids

1. Place jars in a large stock pot; add in water to cover, and bring to a boil. In another pan, place rings and lids in water to cover, and bring to a boil. Once the water for the jars boils, carefully, using a jar lifter or heavy-duty tongs, drain water from jars back into stock pot, and place jars on a towel-lined baking sheet. Once jars are removed, continue to maintain boil of water. Remove the rings and lids from the small pot, and drain on towel.
2. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large pot; season with salt and pepper. Stir in cilantro. Heat salsa over medium-low heat until thoroughly heated.
3. Use a wide-mouth funnel and a ladle to fill hot jars with hot salsa mixture. Fill just below the screw bands on each jar. Run a knife around inside of jar to remove any air bubbles. Place lids on top, and screw on bands.
4. Place jars in boiling water in stock pot. Make sure water covers the top of the jars by 1 inch. Boil 20 minutes. Turn off heat, and let stand in stock pot 5 minutes. Using jar lifter to carefully remove jars from stock pot onto a towel-lined baking sheet. As the jars sit, you will hear a popping noise as the seals set. Let jars stand for 24 hours on a towel without moving them. Tap the tops to make sure seals have set, and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fruit Smoothies

For the past few weeks, Grace’s Kitchen has been providing breakfast for GED students at a local ministry. As I was planning for today’s meal, it seemed like a good idea to try something new. One of the students told me that he really liked smoothies, so this recipe was born. This is so easy! You can used whatever type of fruit you like as well as all add a little fruit juice to enhance the flavor. This recipe makes two smoothies, but it is easily expandable. Enjoy!

Fruit Smoothies
1 cup vanilla yogurt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup frozen strawberries
1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, and pulse until fruit is pureed.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Broccoli Salad With Cashews

This dinner is super-fast (once the potatoes are baked) and tasty. For our main dish, we had baked potatoes loaded with shredded pork, cheese, and a sprinkling of chives. (Use whatever ingredients you have on hand.) The broccoli salad has a twist: Instead of the usual sunflower seeds, I toasted some cashews and stirred them in. Delicious!

Broccoli Salad With Cashews
4 broccoli crowns, cut into florets
4 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/4 onion, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cashews, toasted
1/2 to 3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 to 4 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar

1. Combine broccoli and next 4 ingredients. Stir together mayonnaise and next 2 ingredients; toss with broccoli mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Waffles

This recipe was inspired by one in the October issue of Coastal Living. It’s slightly different from my usual waffle recipe (no butter), but I added some in place of the oil. I also added a little nutmeg. Enjoy!

Pumpkin-Chocolate Chip Waffles
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 egg
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Stir together first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together buttermilk and next 4 ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir buttermilk mixture into flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips.
2. Preheat waffle iron, and coat with cooking spray. Ladle about 1/3 cup batter onto hot iron, spreading to edges. Cook 3 to 4 minutes or until waffle is golden brown and steaming stops. Repeat with remaining batter.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chicken Parmesan and Eggplant Parmesan

Tonight two friends from church came for dinner, and I decided to serve chicken Parmesan and eggplant Parmesan. But it was time to update my original recipe, posted in 2008. The simple tomato sauce that tops the main dish has a new twist as well. On the side, we had risotto and roasted broccoli (omit the nuts and cheese), which were a nice complement. Enjoy!

Chicken Parmesan
All-purpose flour
Salt and pepper
1 lb. chicken tenders, pounded flat
Canola oil
Simple Tomato Sauce (see below)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Pour buttermilk into another dish. Dredge chicken in flour mixture and then buttermilk; repeat procedure.
2. Cook chicken in hot oil 5 minutes on each side or until crispy and done. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm in a 200° oven. To serve, top each piece of chicken with tomato sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

Eggplant Parmesan
Salting the eggplant and letting it stand removes the bitter taste sometimes associated with the vegetable.
1 eggplant, sliced
All-purpose flour
Homemade breadcrumbs
Canola oil
Simple Tomato Sauce (see below)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1. Place eggplant on a layer of paper towels; sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes; rinse eggplant. Place, opposite side up, on another layer of paper towels, and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes; rinse and pat dry. 
2. Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Pour buttermilk into another dish. Dredge eggplant in flour mixture and then buttermilk; repeat procedure.
3. Cook eggplant in hot oil 3 minutes on each side or until crispy and done. Drain on paper towels, and keep warm in a 200° oven. To serve, top each piece of eggplant with tomato sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

Simple Tomato Sauce
1 onion, chopped
Olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp. sugar
Salt and pepper

1. Sauté onion in hot oil, stirring often, 10 minutes or until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, and cook 1 more minute. Stir in balsamic vinegar and next 4 ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Use immersion blender to puree mixture until smooth. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve with chicken and eggplant.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Burgers and Sides

Tonight our burgers were paired with unexpected side dishes: fried okra and roasted sweet potato “fries.” All I did was cut the sweet potatoes in half and then thinly sliced them. Place them on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Then bake the sweet potatoes at 400° for 20 minutes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bacon-Ricotta Pizza

Here’s my latest take on pizza.
1 pizza dough round
1 cup part-skim ricotta
2 Tbsp. sun-dried tomato pesto
4 bacon slices, chopped and cooked
1 1/2 to 2 cups Italian-style shredded cheese

1. Roll out pizza dough; place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Combine ricotta and pesto; spread over top of dough. Sprinkle with bacon and shredded cheese.
2. Bake at 425° for 15 minutes or until crust is done and cheese is melted.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ratatouille Remix With Italian Sausage

Here’s a new take on leftovers from this dish, which I had frozen. Tonight, I cooked two links of fresh Italian sausage, casings removed, until crumbly and browned. Then I stirred the sausage into the thawed leftover gratin, added a can of diced tomatoes, and heated it through. A sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan cheese finished off the dish. Very simple, very tasty!