Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fig, Brie and Watercress Pizza with Prosciutto

Every once in a while I invent a recipe that tastes fabulous and I'm amazed with myself. This was not one of those times. I wanted to use up some ingredients I had in the house and I wanted to try something new. Personally I didn't think this was terrible but J once again was not a fan. I think it would have been a little better with more cheese but c'est la vie. Considering this wasn't one of the pizzas/flatbreads that I had "invented" for my "imaginary restaurant" I wasn't too crushed that it didn't taste fabulous. Firstly I wanted to use some figs and brie I had around. This may not have been the ideal vehicle. I also think the figs they have at me grocery store aren't really the best so it could be better under different circumstances. But enough of making excuses. Here is the recipe, perhaps your at home food critics will like it better than mine.

Fig, Brie and Watercress Pizza with Prosciutto

1 whole wheat pizza dough
1 tbsp cornmeal
8 dried figs
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup water
1 hand full watercress
4 oz. brie cubed
4 slices prosciutto, torn into pieces

  1. In a small sauce pan heat figs with sugar and water until softened. Drain reserving 3 tbsp liquid and puree in a mini-prep food processor until the consistency of preserves.
  2. Spread dough and press into cornmeal. Heat oven to 400 degrees and spread some cornmeal over the pizza stone.
  3. Spread fig spread over dough. Top with cheese and cress.
  4. Bake 15-20 or until dough is baked and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and top with uncooked prosciutto.

Shrimp and Feta Pasta

I had been putting off making this because J seemed to be very negative towards the whole idea, considering he hated it and wouldn't finish his portion may prove there is some stock in his opinion of hearing about the meals. I personally thought it was tasty but maybe not tasty enough for a repeat performance. For lunch on Saturday I whipped this up, it was very easy. I would say it's probably better to follow Kevin's recipe, because I was stuck using dried herbs and shrimp I had already cooked. Enjoy!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chicken Cordon Bleu

One of my favorite meals as a child was Chicken Cordon Bleu. I just loved the sauce. J had requested that I repeat some meals once in a while (instead of having something new every night). This is a meal I first made when I was living in the apartment and first learning to cook. The picture above is J's plate. Mine had more broccoli, less rice, and a smaller piece of chicken, unfortunately it didn't photograph well, so this is the best we have.

When I was living in the apartment I was just as much of a recipe junkie as I am now, except I didn't know about all the wonderful resources on the net. I also didn't have as many cookbooks (not that I have too many, 44, now, but I have run out of room and I can't buy many more until we either move or rearrange the house.). In those days I spent most of my time using At the time I adored the site. Now I have tried branching out more and have become more of a foodie, I don't use it as much. I am a little more selective about my cooking these days as well. Every once in a while I still go back and use one of the really great recipes I found there or I find something I had really meant to try but most of the time I am spending my time reading and browsing through the wonderful world of food blogs. I only discovered they existed last year. I don't think I really thought about how blogs could have a theme. I just thought people were using them as an online type diary, which I thought was a little juvenile and lame to put your diary online for all to see. I don't know how I stumbled onto a food blog, nor do I remember the first one I found (it might have been 101 Cookbooks). At any rate I was completely hooked.

This is one of my favorite recipes from I have a few others I really enjoy but I think I've made this 3 or 4 times now (which is really saying something). I have modified the recipe somewhat and I still wish I had my mom's because I think her recipe tasted the same without the bouillon cube which I would prefer not to use in the future. I served this with steamed rice and broccoli.

Chicken Cordon Bleu (adapted from

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
2 slices Swiss cheese
2 slices ham
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 cube chicken bouillon, crushed
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 cup half and half
  1. Pound chicken breasts. Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast within 1/2 inch of the edges. Fold the edges of the chicken over the filling, and secure with toothpicks. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and coat the chicken pieces.
  2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 10-30 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
  3. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened. Remove the toothpicks, and transfer the breasts to a warm platter and pour sauce over the chicken. Serve with steamed rice, with extra sauce on the rice.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza

This is hands down the meal I make most often for J and I. I found the original recipe on but I do my own thing most of the time. I may have said in the past that I'm not really a fan of raw pears. I don't like the grainy, sandy texture. Cooked pears are delicious. This meal uses the ever popular pear and blue cheese combination. I'll post the link to the original recipe but I have varied this many times.

Pear and Blue Cheese Pizza (adapted from

1 pizza crust
(I dislike the pre-baked crusts immensely, I either make my own, make flatbread dough, or buy just the dough. Here I used whole wheat dough from the store. I try never to use the dough in the can, it has a funny taste.)

1 bosc pear, peeled and cut into slices or cubes (slices work better on flatbread because chunks are heavier and flatbread doesn't cook as long)

olive oil

6 slices provolone cheese

1/4-1/2 cup blue cheese (I have used all kinds of varieties. I wouldn't use anything too expensive because you aren't eating it raw)

~1/4 cup nuts, coarsely chopped (I recommend walnuts as stated in the original recipe. We have tried several types and sometimes we have even forgotten the nuts entirely)

1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed

freshly ground pepper

  1. Spread the pizza dough out. If you are using a baking sheet cover with parchment paper.
  2. Brush dough with olive oil.
  3. Cover dough with provolone cheese, pears, blue cheese, nuts, rosemary, and pepper in that order.
  4. Bake according to pizza crust instructions.

I have made this with grilled chicken added. I have followed the original recipe and added the chives. I find that as long as the ingredients listed above are part of this pizza you can alter little things and it always turns out heavenly. This is J's most requested meal. It is super easy and tastes like you got it in a restaurant. I've also drizzled a tsp of olive oil over it before baking and I think this time I used a tsp of honey instead. The honey added a nice sweetness to parts of the pizza that didn't have pear on it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Autumn Risotto

I LOVE risotto, love, love love it! J on the other hand has been tolerating it because that's the way it works at our house. He tolerates what I cook and then most likely sneaks more food after I go to bed. Tonight's dinner was a carry over from one of the meals I was supposed to make last week. I made a variation of an Autumn Risotto I found. Sadly, I'm not a huge fan of butternut squash, so I used a sweet potato in tonight's risotto. As a general rule I don't like to mix starches. I don't want potatoes in my pasta or on pizza. I don't like to eat a Spanish tortilla sandwich etc. This was an exception for me. This was also exceptional for me.

Autumn Risotto
(adapted from anticiplate)
1 sweet potato (yam?), cubed
2 tbsp salted butter (or just add a little salt to unsalted butter)
pinch of cinnamon
4 sweet apple chicken sausages, cubed
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp each chopped fresh sage and rosemary
1 cup arborio rice
3.5 cups fat free low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider
pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds)

  1. In a microwavable bowl add an inch of water to cubes of raw potato. Cook approx 5 min or until slightly tender.
  2. Melt butter and sugar in a pan and add potato. Finish cooking in the butter mixture and set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a pot (or large pan). Add sausage and cook partially. Add onion and garlic and finish cooking sausage. Add sage and rosemary.
  4. Add rice and stir to coat with oil, about 1 minute. Add broth and cider 1/2 cup at a time (they should be warm or room temperature not cold) stirring semi-constantly. Rice with take on a creamy texture.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with a sprinkle of pepitas.

Apple, Brie, and Onion Panini

This, believe it or not, is mostly a Weight Watchers recipe. I wasn't planning on deviating but silly me I guess I just can't help myself. J wanted a little Virginia ham on his sandwich and no onions so his is a little different.

J's Sandwich:
raw honeycrisp apple
sourdough bread
spreadable butter

My Sandwich:
honeycrisp apple
sourdough bread
spreadable butter
apple cider

Basically I just assembled his sandwish and spread (very lightly) the spreadable butter on each side before putting it on the panini press (I just have a stovetop version). For my sandwich I cooked the apple slices and onion with a little cider and then put that on the sandwich with the cheese and cooked it in the same way as J's. This was our lunch on Sunday. I was sick so I didn't want to go out of the house and make it worse or contaminate anyone.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pumpkin (squash) Pie

Remember when I first started this blog and I said I would be blogging about pumpkin pie? Well the wait is over. I've been seeing more long-neck pumpkins in the store each week and I realized I still have most of the pumpkin still in the freezer from last year. So today I decided to make some pumpkin pie. The recipe comes from J's grandmother. Last year I had a pie making tutorial and learned how to make pumpkin pie and pot pie. My grandmother told me that they used to have pumpkin pie and squash pie at Thanksgiving. I've never liked pumpkin pie, but this is what her family would have called squash pie. Whatever you decide to call it, it's still delicious!

Pumpkin Pie (makes 2 pumpkin pies)

1 recipe double pie crust
2 eggs beaten
2 cups long-neck pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon divided
1 can evaporated milk (13 oz.)- I used fat free but J claims this ruined the pie, but I can't taste the difference
1 tsp vanilla

  1. Place each crust into a 9" pie plate. Flute edges or embellish to your liking (I forgot and it tasted just as good, of course :P ).
  2. Mix filling ingredients in order given. Pour into pie shells (the filling make approx. 1 quart total so half in each. If you have a large mearsuing bowl with a spout it's best to use it to be more precise)
  3. Bake in a preheated oven at 425 degrees for 15 min. Reduce temperature to 350 and bake another 45 min or until knife comes out clean. Cool and serve,with whipped cream if you like.

Pie Crust: 2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt, 2/3 cup + 2 tbsp shortening, 1/4 cup cold water

Mix flour and salt in a bowl. Cut in shortening with pastry blender, sprinkle with water 1 tbsp at a time. Gather dough together with hands and be sure to get all the dough form the sides of the bowl. Press firmly into a ball. Roll out for two 9" crusts.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mushroom Dip

Years ago, my mother took me to a vegetarian (and partially vegan and/or gluten free) restaurant in Clarksville, MD called Great Sage. I only went a few times but I really liked it (haven't been back but it's probably still pretty good if you are looking to try it out, it seems to still be in business). Besides the spinach salad, which was very good, my favorite thing to get and really my only real reason for going was the trio of spreads (dips?) appetizer- carrot, mushroom, and beet. If I recall, I don't actually remember eating the beet spread as a teenager. Unfortunately they completely changed the menu and this was cut from the list. I still think about it fondly and when looking at the weekly grocery store circular and seeing cremini mushrooms on sale, I decided to try and find a recipe for a mushroom dip. As usual I couldn't just follow the recipe like a good little soldier. So far I've done a carrot dip and now the mushroom, all I have to do is try my hand a beet dip and I'll be all set. So here it is (probably could have a better picture but this was done on the fly) the mushroom dip.

Mushroom Dip (adapted from MAC & CHEESE, adapted from Urban Vegan)

1 2.25 oz bag of pecans, toasted
1 tbsp olive oil
8 oz cremini mushrooms
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp cream sherry
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped

  1. Pulse toasted pecans in food processor until finely chopped, almost flour-like.
  2. Saute onions in olive oil until translucent. Add mushrooms, garlic, rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste and saute until mushrooms start to soften.
  3. Add sherry to mushrooms, and simmer 2 minutes.
  4. To the pecans in the food processor, add cooked mushrooms and onions and process until smooth.
I served with pita chips and it was delicious. I found a beet dip but haven't tried it yet.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Pork Tenderloin

This one is just ok taste wise. It look beautiful and is a good concept, but for me I just didn't like the flavor combination. I also think there was WAY too much onion in the sauce. I'm starting to realize that I really prefer my pork with a little bit of sweetness. I also wasn't thrilled with mushrooms and pork together. I know, I know...I sound like such a whiner but the pictures are nice and you may like it even if I don't. Surprisingly J even had some of the sauce (SHOCKING) even though he had crispy potatoes instead of roasted brussel sprouts. So here is my attempt at using up some more of that lovely BOGO pork tenderloin.

Autumn Pork Tenderloin (adapted from Kayotic Kitchen)
1 pork tenderloin (approx. 1 pound)
4 oz mixed mushrooms, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 heaping tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 cup fat free low sodium chicken broth
1/2 a cup milk
1 tbsp white wine
4 tbsp butter
dried parsley
Worcestershire sauce

  1. Season the pork with salt and pepper. Rub all over with mustard.
  2. Heat 2 tbsp butter and saute the onions until they start to soften.
  3. Add the garlic and mushrooms and cook over low heat until everything softens.
  4. Add flour and cook so none of the flour remains raw about 2 minutes.
  5. Add wine and stir, add milk and stir until sauce is lump free. Add the broth gradually as the sauce thickens.
  6. Simmer over low heat 15 min.
  7. Heat the rest of the butter over medium high heat and brown meat on all sides.
  8. Once all sides are completely browned, lower the heat slightly and add approx. 1/4 cup of water. Cover and braise meat turning periodically. Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. It should read 160 degrees. Remove meat from pan and wrap in foil.
  9. Add parsley to the sauce, along with salt, pepper and a splash of Worcestershire.
  10. Slice pork and drizzle with sauce.
You know as a child the most hated vegetable for kids is Brussels sprouts. Most kids haven't seen a sprout let alone taste them because they have gotten a bad wrap for so long. I think every TV show I ever saw as a kid shouted from the rooftops how disgusting liver and Brussels sprouts were. My mother never made Brussels sprouts when I was a kid, but nonetheless all that propaganda had corrupted me and it wasn't until I was in college that I actually tried one. My friend M really likes them but I can't really do them whole or steamed. It's a textural problem. This is only the third time I've tried them and they were still very good. I had them roasted once before and I've also made them shredded with pasta and pine nuts (highly recommended). This was my first time roasting them myself. It's very easy:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

2 cups Brussels sprouts, washed removing and unsavory looking outer leaves
1-1.5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Cut sprouts in half.
Toss the Brussels sprouts with the oil, salt and pepper.
Roast on a baking sheet 40 minutes(unless you like them less cooked) at 400 degrees. Turn or toss in order to achieve uniform caramelizing.

I read you can cook at 425 degrees for less time but I didn't try that. I think next time I would cut them in quarters because I prefer the crunchy texture. If you have never tried them I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Tortilla Pie (in a crock pot)

So I've been staring at the leftover piles of tortillas in the fridge, wondering when the last time we even used tortillas and I finally decided that the time had come to use up the last of them. I had 3 whole wheat tortillas and 8 corn tortillas of different sizes. I found some different recipes for various items and settled on a tortilla pie (stack, or lasagna-whatever you want to call it). I read over a few recipes and made something completely different. Here is what I came up with and hopefully it isn't too terrible. I have no idea how it tastes yet. That it be the closing paragraph I suppose...

Tortilla Pie (in a slow cooker)

1.5 pounds ground turkey (93%)
1 yellow pepper, diced
1 sweet onion, chopped
1 tsp peanut oil
1-2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 cloves garlic chopped
16 oz. canned tomato sauce
8 tortillas (or the combination that is listed above)
soft butter
2 cups shredded cheese (Mexican blend or your preference)

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Sauté onion until just tender then add onions and pepper and cook several minutes.
  3. Add garlic, chili powder, ground cumin, salt, pepper and oregano.
  4. Add ground turkey. When meat is browned, stir in tomato sauce and continue cooking until hot. Add cinnamon and crushed red pepper.
  5. Line your slow cooker with foil. You can use the foil as handles to lift out the pie when you are ready.
  6. Lightly butter one of the tortillas. Lay one tortilla, buttered side up, on foil in bottom. Spread with the meat mixture and a layer of cheese. Cover with another buttered tortilla, more meat mixture and cheese. Repeat layers.
  7. Cover crock pot, and cook on HIGH 1 hour. When ready to serve, lift out, using foil strips and transfer to serving dish. Cut into wedges. Serve with sour cream, chopped green onion, and salsa if desired.
I used green onion and sour cream, but you could have used lots of various toppings. J mentioned something about why wasn't there any corn in the mix. There are a million ways you could change this recipe but I was able to use up the leftover ingredients I had around. It was pretty tasty and the it could serve 6-8 people which is great.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

You know those fundraiser cookbooks? The ones sold by churches, schools, and scouting troops... Generally they are forgotten immediately or browsed through at various intervals only to find about 17 versions of Seven Layer Taco Dip and numerous casseroles made with cream of mushroom soup. This recipe comes from The Legal Secretary Cookbook (I think it was some sort of association but I apparently didn't write down anymore info), submitted but one Grace McLaughlin. I don't know who you are Ms. McLaughlin, legal secretary of the 1970s-80s but THANK YOU SOOOOOOO MUCH! This is one of my favorite cookie recipes. I decided to change one thing to see if it made a difference and for some reason the cookbook claims it makes 5 dozen cookies. It makes approx. 37 cookies or 3 dozen if you eat a little bit of batter (just a little!). October is the month my mother always made Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies and Sugar Cookies in the shape of cats. I'm not much of a sugar cookie fan so I don't bother with those. She made the same ones in the shape of hearts for Valentine's Day and various shapes at Christmas time. I'm not much of a baker. Too much measuring and science involved, not enough improvisation/experimentation (can you tell I used to do theatre in high school?). However, I have a hard time going without these cookies when the fall rolls around. It's very easy and you can whip these up in 30-40 minutes depending on how many cookie sheets you want in the oven at once.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from Legal Secretary Cookbook-Grace McLaughlin)

Yields 3 dozen

1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup natural apple sauce (original recipes calls for 1/2 cup oil no applesauce)
1 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda, dissolved in 1 tsp milk
1 cup chocolate chips (I've always used semi-sweet)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Combine pumpkin, sugar, oil, applesauce and egg in a large bowl.
  3. In a smaller bowl combine flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet with baking soda mixture.
  5. Stir in chips and vanilla.
  6. Drop rounded teaspoons on lightly greased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 10 -12 min.
These are a soft cakey cookie. Each cookie is 1 WW point. That's if you eat only 1. If you eat 2 cookies it is 3 points. So I guess you could count them as a point and a half just to be safe. I calculated that with my modification. I couldn't tell the difference using half applesauce.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Autumn is here...

I am trying to be better about buying food in season and I've had such a craving for comfort food and Autumn meals that in addition to the stew last week I also tried 2 new (healthy) recipes. Cooking Light's Blue Cheese and Fig Stuffed Pork Tenderloin and Weight Watchers Roasted Carrots and Parsnips. I thought the whole thing was cooked perfectly and to die for. J didn't like the fig seeds because the crunching sound bothered him. I'm starting to think he is inventing reasons to say he doesn't like the food. Just kidding, J! Of course I tweaked the recipes slightly.

Fig and Blue Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin (adapted from Cooking Light)

1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin
1/2 cup dried figs (I used organic Turkish figs-lighter in color), chopped
1/2 cup crumbled reduced fat blue cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon apple jelly, melted in the microwave
  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Slice the pork jelly roll style, cutting to, but not through, other side. Open the halves, laying pork flat. Place pork under wax paper; pound to 1/2-inch thickness using a meat mallet.
  3. Sprinkle figs and blue cheese over pork, leaving a 1/2-inch margin around outside edges.
  4. Roll up the pork, jelly-roll fashion, starting with long side. Secure with twine. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper, and place on a foil-lined broiler pan.
  5. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Brush jelly over the pork. Bake an additional 5 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160° (slightly pink). Let stand for 10 minutes. Discard twine; cut pork into slices.
The pork was cooked perfectly with a little bit of pink (which is fine for pork). I also wanted to try a new vegetable and when I saw the picture of the parsnips on the Weight Watchers site I was hooked.

Roasted Carrots and Parsnips (adapted from Weight Watchers)

Cooking spray
8 carrots (I used organic), julienned
2 parsnips, julienned
3/4 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed by hand
kosher salt
black pepper
1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  1. Preheat oven to 425˚F.
  2. Coat two baking sheets lightly with cooking spray.
  3. In a bowl place the vegetables, add seasonings and olive oil. Toss to coat.
  4. Transfer food to baking sheets, using two cooks everything more evenly without crowding.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes; flip vegetables and roast until vegetables start to caramelize, about 10 more.
If you have never tried parsnips before, I urge you to give this a try. With this recipe if you are trying to fool the kids (which isn't expert recommended, supposedly, but my sister ate hamburger for years because we called it steak burger only), call them yellow carrots. The smell of the parsnips is a little strong when they are raw but once cooked they are very mild and similar to carrots. If you don't like thyme and rosemary, try other combinations. The original didn't call for rosemary. I think fresh sage may be good or even using the Moroccan seasonings from that carrot dip recipe. I am even considering recommending this one for Thanksgiving dinner this year. The julienning is a little time consuming by hand but personally worth it. Call a friend and chat and the time just flies by.

Carbonnade a la Flamande (Beer Stew)

Every once in a while you have a craving for something from your childhood, something that mom made. I unfortunately seem destined to fail at recreating these no matter how closely I follow the recipe. This is a recipe I hated as a child but wanted to try anyway. I think my mother found this in a magazine or newspaper approx. 20-30 years ago but we changed some of the ingredients and amounts. Here I left the sauce amounts the same but used the same large ingredient amounts that I used when I halved the recipe. For some reason even though it was on low all my liquid evaporated too fast and so I burned a little of it. There wasn't any sauce left so I cooked some egg noodles in beef bouillon and used the broth to make more sauce. This is what my mom recommended after she heard the story. So if you try it this way let me know how it comes out. We always ate just the potatoes and not the noodles but when J came home he said his family's stew always had both and why couldn't we. I personally think one or the other is fine. I prefer less starch as a general rule.

Carbonnade a la Flamande (Beer Stew)

3-4 servings

1/4 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper

1-1.5 lbs. lean beef chuck, well trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/8 c. peanut oil

3 Tbsp. tomato paste (or 3 Tbsp catsup and omit the sugar)

1 Tbsp. sugar

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 bay leaf

1/8 tsp. thyme

1 tsp dried parsley

3 cups (24 oz.) beer

6-7 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks

1 large onions

Freshly cooked noodles and or 2 potatoes peeled and cut into uniform chunks

  1. Combine flour, salt and pepper in bag or Tupperware container. Add meat and shake to coat well.
  2. Heal oil in a large flat pan or skillet. Add meat in batches (do not crowd pan) and brown on all sides.
  3. Add seasonings and beer and bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover partially and simmer about 1 1/2 hours. Discard bay leaf.
  4. Add carrots, potatoes, and onion and simmer 1 hour longer. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  5. Serve over bed of egg noodles.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers with Wedge Salad

Years ago when I first started cooking, I found this recipe for Spinach and Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers. I am a firm believer in not trying to make a turkey burger taste like a hamburger. It only ends in disappointment and who wants to be disappointed? I also find myself resisting using a bun when I use turkey. I've been told that unless you use leaner turkey it isn't much better than using ground beef so if you are thinking you are being healthy with that 80-85% turkey you might want to switch to the 90%. I find that the it has just enough fat to still have some sort of juice, because we all know the biggest complaint when it comes to turkey is that it is TOO DRY, whether it be luncheon meat from the deli or the Thanksgiving turkey. This recipe for turkey burgers eliminates the dry issue with cheese and spinach right in the mix. I modified the recipe and added a little panko which J thought was unnecessary and I think either way is still good.

I found this on, which used to be my go to for online recipes until I found so many other sites that I prefer. There are a few quite good recipes on there but it takes a little sifting.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Turkey Burgers (adapted from
1 package 90% ground turkey
1/2-3/4 box frozen spinach, thawed and drained
4 oz. crumbled goat cheese (if you can find a flavored one you like use it but I just had plain this time)
~1/2-1 cup panko bread crumbs
1 onion, sliced and caramelized to your liking (feel free to add a pinch of sugar or splash of balsamic)

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Combine turkey, spinach, and goat cheese in a bowl, add any additional seasonings to taste.
  3. Form 6 burger patties.
  4. Pour panko bread crumbs into a shallow dish and press burgers gently in panko to coat.
  5. Refrigerate the burgers for at least 15 min to help with firmness.
  6. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and brown each side of the burgers.
  7. Transfer burgers to broiler pan and broil 15 min or until burgers are done.
  8. Serve topped with caramelized onions or a spicy mayonnaise/sauce of your choice.
You can omit steps 4 and 6 if you prefer it without panko.

The wedge is trendy. From little amount of research I can find on the subject, the wedge salad was most popular in the 40s-60s in the United States, while iceberg lettuce has dominated since the 1920s. I normally can't stand iceberg lettuce. As a child that was salad: iceberg lettuce, Pepperridge Farm seasoned croutons, little pieces of Cracker Barrel orange cheddar chunk cheese, and bottled dressing (probably a type of Wish Bone Russian or something). Although until I was 6 or so I ate my salad without the lettuce. (I can't believe I was allowed to eat eat cheese, croutons, and lettuce in a bowl). Now I semi-avoid the "crisp head" lettuce as it was originally called, but the wedge is one of the exceptions. I had some leftover bacon and decided the wedge salad is just what I needed.

Wedge Salad (for two)

1/2 a head iceberg lettuce
2 plum tomatoes
3 slices of cooked bacon
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup white dressing (I used the dressing from the Caesar Pasta Salad recipe)

  1. Cut lettuce into 2 wedges.
  2. De seed and dice tomatoes.
  3. Crumble bacon and add bacon and tomatoes to the lettuce.
  4. Pour dressing over wedge and season with pepper.
It really is a very low maintenance type of salad and presents beautifully. Nuts and blue cheese are always a welcome addition but I would use a different dressing in that case. As always experiment and find something tasty. J, of course, ate his salad sans dressing and tomato (yes, a chunk of lettuce sprinkled with bacon, I know...) but I really feel if you are going to eat your lettuce in a big chunk it should be properly dressed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Going Greek

Some weeks I try and have a different type of cuisine each night. We really try not to have two Mexican meals in one week etc. Last week I decided we needed a Greek meal. I found a delicious looking recipe for pork chops and I also found a semi healthy recipe for a green bean salad with feta cheese.

Green Bean, Walnut and Feta Salad
(Adapted from Southern Living)

2 tbsp coarsely chopped walnuts
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1 clove minced garlic
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
2.5 handfuls fresh green beans
1/4 small purple onion thinly sliced
3 tbsp package feta cheese crumbled

Toast walnuts in a pan on the stove over low heat.

Whisk together olive oil, vinegar, dill, garlic, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

Trim ends of green beans. Arrange the beans in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam until crisp tender (approximately 15 minutes.) Drain and rinse thoroughly under cold water. Pat dry.

Toss together beans, walnuts and onions in a serving dish. Crumble the feta cheese over the top. Cover and refrigerate.

One hour before serving, pour prepared dressing over bean mixture. Toss thoroughly just before serving.

Grilled Marinated Pork Chops
(From Kalyn's Kitchen)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
fresh ground black pepper to taste

Combine ingredients for marinade. Marinate pork chops and cook on grill or indoors using grill pan.

The whole thing was just delicious!