Archive for January, 2010


Scallion Pancakes

January 30, 2010

Scallion pancakes.  These used to be one of my FAVORITE things to order when my family went for Chinese food growing up.  I still love them, and tonight I learned that they are pretty easy to make too!  There are a whole bunch of steps, but these come out crispy and with lots of scallion flavor.  I also threw in a little sauce recipe in case you want to dip them in something!

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1/2 c hot water (plus up to 2 T more, if needed)
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 2 bunches scallions, finely chopped

Then you…

  1. Combine the flour, garlic powder, and salt into a large bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup hot water until blended. If the dough is dry, add up to 2 more tablespoons water. Knead on a lightly floured surface until elastic yet firm, about 5 minutes. Cover with a damp cloth and set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Divide the dough into 6 pieces and keep covered. One at a time, roll each piece into a thin disk. Brush lightly with sesame oil and sprinkle with  scallions.
  3. Roll the dough along one side (the longer one, if you didn’t get a perfect circle).
  4. Coil the log into a circle, like a snail. Cover and set aside. Repeat with the remaining dough.
  5. Flatten the coils with your hand on a floured surface, then roll with a floured rolling pin into a thin circle.
  6. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add a few pancakes and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.
  7. Drain on paper towels and repeat with the remaining pancakes, adding more oil as needed. Cut into wedges to serve.
  8. For a dipping sauce, mix 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 3 tablespoons rice vinegar,  4 tablespoons soy sauce and any leftover scallions.

Golfer’s Chicken

January 29, 2010

This recipe originated in my hometown’s “favorites” cookbook.  It makes super moist, fall-apart chicken and can be whipped together in a flash.  The best part is that you can let it slow cook in the oven (or a cooker!) or have it ready in an hour.  If you want a new twist, try it with chicken wings, drumettes or thighs.  There will be lots of sauce, so be sure to have some pasta or potatoes to help soak it all up!

You will need:

  • 1 envelope dry onion soup mix (I use Lipton’s)
  • 1 bottle Russian dressing
  • 1 jar (8 oz) apricot preserves (I use Polaner)
  • 1 lb chicken breast or tenderloins
  • 1 onion, chopped

Then you will…

  1. Combine the dry soup mix, dressing and preserves.  Mix well until no lumps are readily noticeable.
  2. Place chicken in a 13×9 glass baking dish.  Top with the chopped onion.  Spread sauce over the top and toss to coat.
  3. Bake at 225 for 4-5 hours (or as long as your golf game lasts!).  If you want dinner in a hurry, preheat the oven to 375 and bake for an hour.
  4. Let cool slightly as sauce will be very bubbly and hot. Enjoy!

Butterscotch Oat Bars

January 28, 2010

If you want something sweet and fruity, these’ll do it!  These cookie bars combine oats with butterscotch chips and apricot preserves to make a delicious treat.  Careful because they go quick!

You will need:

  • 1 c margarine, room temperature (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1 1/4 c flour
  • 3 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1 2/3 c (11-oz pkg) butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 c coconut flakes
  • 1/4 c apricot preserves


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a 13×9 inch baking dish with parchment paper and lightly grease to help remove bars after baking.
  3. Cream together margarine and both sugars.
  4. Add the vanilla and eggs; mix well.
  5. Add the baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Combine.
  6. Mix in the flour and the oats.
  7. Add in the butterscotch and coconut flakes.
  8. Spread in baking dish.
  9. Soften preserves in the microwave about 20 seconds or until easily spreadable.  Drizzle across the top of the dough.
  10. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until just turning golden (bars will continue to set as they cool).
  11. Cool and cut into bars.
  12. Optional:  drizzle chocolate across the top for extra sweetness!


Chicken Sausage Meatballs

January 26, 2010

I’ve finally got TV and internet back at my apartment, and I must confess to leaving the TV on Food Network almost all the time when I’ve been home.  This is a meal I made for an old roommate the other night after seeing it on Rachael Ray.  I served it with roasted broccoli (popped in the oven at 400 for about 20 min with olive oil, salt and pepper) and romano-pepper mashed potatoes (yumm!).

You will need:

  • 1 tub bocconcini (bite-sized mozzarella balls)
  • 2 lbs fresh Italian chicken sausage (you can find it in the butcher’s at Whole Foods…you want some that are not pre-cooked)
  • 1 can (28 oz) whole San Marzano tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 tub fresh basil pesto

Then you…

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a baking sheet lined with tinfoil.
  2. Remove the sausages from their casings into a mixing bowl.  Make sure they are blended, especially if using a mix of hot and mild Italian sausages.  Score the meat into 4 sections.  Score each section into three.
  3. Remove 12 bocconcini and place on cutting board.  Take one of the 12 sections of meat and wrap it around a piece of mozzarella. Place on the baking sheet.  Repeat.
  4. Baking 18 to 20 minutes until cooked through and evenly browned.
  5. In a medium saucepan, add tomatoes with their juice.  Use a potato masher to break down the tomatoes.  Season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Allow to reduce about 8 to 10 minutes.
  6. Remove the sauce from the heat and mix in the pesto.
  7. Serve the sausage meatballs with the tomato-basil sauce on top!

Peppermint Cream

January 24, 2010

This is super quick and easy.  I like making it with leftover candy canes after Christmas, but it really is good at any time.  Usually it makes an appearance with sugar wafer cookies for dipping.  I like pirouettes by Pepperidge Farms, but you can use your favorite as long as it is crispy and delicous!  You can also add a dollup to a cup of hot cocoa.  Go wild!

You will need:

  • 1 tub of cool whip (or make some fresh whipped cream!)
  • 4-6 crushed candy canes (~1/2 c of crushed peppermint)

Then you…

  1. Crush the candy.  You can put them in heavy duty ziplock bags and hammer them out, or toss them in a food processor.
  2. Mix with the whipped topping.
  3. Serve!

Stuffed Shells

January 14, 2010

Back in June, a friend reviewed Cook Yourself Thin and made it sound decently interesting.  Jump forward a few months and I’ve finally found time to take a look.  Here’s one of the dishes:  baked stuffed shells.

You will want:

  • 1 box (12-oz) jumbo pasta shells (approximately 40 shells)
  • 1 can (28-oz) peeled plum tomatoes in juice
  • 1 can (14-oz) peeled plum tomatoes in juice
  • 4 t olive oil, divided
  • 3/4 c red onion, roughly chopped (a little more than 1/2 an onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh basil, minced (I like to cut it up with kitchen scissors in a little bowl)
  • Salt &pepper
  • 1-lb bag baby spinach, chopped (or 1 thawed box of chopped — well drained)
  • 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 2 c (16 ounces) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 2 thin slices of ham, chopped
  • 1 1/2 c shredded reduced-fat, part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • 2 T chopped parsley
  • 1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
  • Pinch grated nutmeg

Then you…

  1. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the shells, and partially cook 6 to 7 minutes — they should have started to become tender but will still be firm to the bite. Drain in a colander and immediately transfer to the oiled baking sheet, spreading them out in a single layer so that they don’t stick together. Let cool.
  2. For the sauce, pour the tomatoes into a bowl and mash with your hands, or pulse in food processor to chop.
  3. Heat 2 t oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Cover, reduce heat to very low and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the tomatoes with juice, basil and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer, cover and simmer gently 5 minutes. Then simmer very gently, partially covered, until thickened, about 20 minutes. Season with 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Set aside.
  5. In a skillet, cook the spinach and 1/2 t salt over medium heat, covered. Tossing every now and then for even cooking, until wilted, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain, and let cool, then squeeze out as much liquid as you can. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.
  6. In the same skillet, heat 2 t oil over medium heat. Add the zucchini and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring every now and then, until tender and lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes. Add scallions during the final 1 minute. Add to the bowl with the spinach. Add the ricotta, ham, half of the parmesan cheese, 1/2 cup of the mozzarella, the parsley, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the nutmeg, and stir to combine.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  8. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-x-13-inch baking dish. Fill the cooked shells with the cheese mixture, about 1 tablespoon per shell, and arrange the shells side by side in a single layer. Spoon the remaining sauce over the shells, and then sprinkle with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.
  9. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake until the filling is heated through and the cheese is melted, 25 to 30 minutes.

I took the foil off at the very end to let the cheese brown and get a little crispy.  Yumm!  If you wanted to make it vegetarian, just leave out the ham.


Curried Chicken & Rice Soup

January 12, 2010

This recipe caught my eye courtesy of Food Network.  I adjusted it a little for my tastes and for what I had on hand.   It’s a pretty easy adaptation of a more traditional soup and great for cold nights!

You will need…

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 bone-in chicken breast (about 11/2 pounds), halved
  • 1 c baby carrots, sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 6 c low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 T margarine
  • 1 large onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 1/2 t Madras curry powder
  • 1/3 cup brown jasmine rice
  • 3 T fresh mint, chopped
  • 3 T fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut into wedges (opt)

Then you:

  1. Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan.  Quickly brown the chicken.
  2. Add the carrots, bay leaves and a pinch of salt, along with 3 cups broth and bring to a boil; immediately reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the chicken is just firm, about 20 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and place chicken on a cutting board to cool. Remove the bay leaves from the pot and any obvious pieces of skin or bone. (I ran mine through a sieve and dumped the carrots back in).
  4. Meanwhile, heat the butter in another saucepan over medium-low heat. (You want it to be big enough to hold 6 cups of broth plus all the add-ins!).
  5. Add the onion, sugar and 1 teaspoon salt; cook until the onion is soft, 5 minutes. Add the curry powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the rice and the remaining 3 cups broth. Increase the heat to medium, cover and simmer until the rice falls apart, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Once the chicken is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and shred the meat into pieces. Return the shredded chicken to its broth.
  7. Puree the rice mixture in a blender (in batches) until smooth, returning to original stock pan. Pour in the shredded chicken and its broth with carrots, stirring gently to combine; bring to a simmer. Toss in the chopped herbs and serve the soup with lemon wedges.



January 11, 2010

When I am not cooking, I am often reading.  Why?  Because I like it!  Ha!  Usually I am reading something passed along via a friend or mentioned elsewhere.  If I am too busy when I hear about an interesting book, I’ll jot down the title in a notebook and wait till the next holiday or birthday when I have some time off.  My brother is a particularly tough critic of reading material; nothing fluffy for him, yet even he was intrigued by one of the books on my list this Christmas.

Bill Buford recently published a memoir called Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.  It many ways it reminds me of the saying “will work for food.”  After an encounter with Mario Batali, he ends up in the kitchen of Babbo — one of Batali’s restaurants.  The book chronicles Buford’s experiences both there and in Italy as he discovers the world of a chef and cook.  I really enjoyed his personal stories mixed in with those of his interactions with Batali.  The foodie in me really liked it.  Check it out…at the very least it’s an entertaining glimpse behind the doors to the kitchen restaurant.  While it might not be as dramatic as Hell’s Kitchen, it will certainly keep you reading!


Shrimp Fresco

January 8, 2010

This is an easy dish with quick-cooking couscous and shrimp!  You could use any pasta you had on hand.

You will need:

  • 1 lb jumbo shrimp (I like the jumbo because they are big enough not to get tough when reheating leftovers)
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 t pepper
  • 1 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 c baby spinach, chopped
  • 1 c couscous
  • Juice from tomato can plus water to equal 1 cup
  • 1 bouillon cube (opt)
  • 1 T margarine
  • Handful feta crumbles (opt)

Then  you…

  1. Bring tomato water, bouillon and margarine to a boil.
  2. When water boils, add couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.  It will be done in about 4-5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano and basil in a medium bowl.
  4. Add to a large skillet over medium heat.  Add tomatoes when the shrimp are about halfway cooked, and stir.
  5. Add the spinach and stir.
  6. Remove from heat when cooked through.  Add couscous and mix.
  7. Serve topped with feta crumbles!
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