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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pasta with chorizo

This is a nice twist to pasta. The chorizo has a wonderful flavor which makes this dish delicious.  It can be made in about 30 minutes, which is great when your short on time.

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 x 400g (2 x 14oz) cans of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
3 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper
Pinch of sugar
225 grams (8oz) chorizo, sliced into 1/2 centimeter rounds
pinch of dried red chili flake
160ml (2/3 cup) cream
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
400 grams (14oz) farfalle, rigatoni or penne pasta
4 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese + additional for serving

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan and add the chopped tomatoes, garlic and rosemary.  Season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Cook the tomatoes until they have begun to soften and the juices are slightly reduced, about 4-5 minutes.

Add sausage, red chili flakes, cream and half of the chopped parsley.  Allow to simmer with the lid off until the mixture has reduced by half, 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Take off the heat, check and adjust seasoning.

Meanwhile cook the pasta in a pan of salted boiling water until slightly al dente (9 minutes). Once cooked, drain and toss with sauce in a serving bowl.  Scatter with the grated parmesan cheese and the rest of the parsley.

Serves 6

Monday, December 28, 2009

Flourless Chocolate Cake

If you like chocolate, this is a cake for you!  It is so rich and delightful.  Enjoy it with family and friends throughout the year.

Unsweetened cocao powder for dusting
15 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
18 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
7 egg yolks
9 tablespoons granulated sugar, separated
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
5 egg whites, at room temperature
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a 10 inch cake pan, with removable sides, and dust with cocoa powder.

In a double boiler, combine the chocolate and butter.  Set the top pan over but not touching the simmering water in the bottom pan.  Melt and stir until well blended.  Set aside and let cool slightly.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together the egg yolks, 6 tablepoons of the granulated sugar, vanilla and salt on medium-high speed until pale and very thick, 3 to 5 minutes.  Gradually pour in the chocolate mixture and continue beating until well blended.

In a clean bowl, using a mixer fitted with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy, about 1 minute.  Gradually add the remaining 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and continue beating until medium-firm peaks form, about 2 minutes.  Gently fold 1/2 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Fold in the remaining whites just until no streaks remain.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  Bake until the cake puffs slightly and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out very moist but not liquid, about 40 minutes.  Do not overcook.  Transfer to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.

Remove the pan sides.  Let the cake cool completely, then cover and refrigerate untl very cold, at least 4 hours or up to overnight. 

Just before serving, dust with powdered sugar.

Serves 12 to 14.

Broccoli and Apple Salad

Earlier this year, I was determined to find a way to have my kids eat more green vegetables without complaining.  I found a broccoli recipe online at 101cookbooks.com and then experimented with it to find something that fit our family. The fruit adds a sweetness to this salad that my kids now love!

4-5 cups tiny broccoli florets

1 tablespoon butter, softened
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 tablespoons hot water

2 small crisp apples, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup toasted or candied walnuts, pecans or almonds
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and salt.  Boil the broccoli just long enough to take the raw edge off, about 3 minutes.  Drain and immerse in cold water.  Knock against the sink in a strainer to get the water off.  Set aside.

Make the dressing by whisking the butter, lemon juice, honey and olive oil together.  Add the hot water and whisk until light and creamy.  Taste, adjust flavors as desired and set aside.

In a large bowl gently toss the broccoli, apples, nuts and cranberries.  Drizzle with a generous amount of dressing and toss.  Season with salt and pepper. Serve.

Serves 4-6

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sweet Popcorn

We often went to the drive-in theatre when I was growing up.  We always made large bags of fresh popcorn to take with us.  Now I crave it when we´re watching movies at home.  Since we´ve been trying to eat healthier the last few years,  I wanted to find something other than the store bought, unhealthy microwave popcorn and found this fast and easy recipe at simplyrecipes.com earlier this year. We prefer sweet to buttery popcorn, so I´ve modified it to fit our tastes. The whole family just loves it! 

Tip: Additional toppings: melter butter and salt, cayenne pepper, parmesan cheese, chili pepper, curry powder

3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 3-quart covered saucepan
flavored powered sugar, cinammon or maple flavored ones are great

Heat the oil in saucepan on medium high heat.

Put 3 or 4 popcorn kernals into the oil and cover the pan.

When the kernels pop, add the rest of the 1/3 cup of popcorn kernels in an even layer.  Cover, remove from heat and count 30 seconds.  (This kids always help with this part!) This method first heats the oil to the right temperature, then waiting 30 seconds brings all of the other kernals to a near-popping temperature so they all pop at the same time, when returned to the heat.

Return the pan to the heat.  Once the popping starts vigorouly, gently shake the pan by moving it back and forth over the burner.  Try to keep the lid slightly ajar to let the steam from the popcorn release.  Once the popping slows to several seconds between pops, remove from heat and dump immediately into a bowl.

Season with powdered sugar to desired taste.

Makes 2 quarts

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Mario and I love this guacamole!  But, when the kids see it they about die.  "Oh, no...I don´t like it...please don´t make me eat it."  Last night we had Mucho Nachos and Jonah wanted to help with dinner.  He spooned the avocado into a bowl, mashed it, and added most of the ingredients himself.  He even chopped some of the cilantro.  When I told him he needed to taste it to make sure we didn´t need to add anything else, he said, "It´s delicious!".  During dinner he kept asking for more guacamole.  So, if your kids don´t like something, try having them help make it!

Tip:  Add 1/2 of the jalepeños, cilantro and lime juice, taste and add more as your taste desires.

1 or more tablespoons jalepeño chiles, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 ripe avocados, halved, pitted and peeled
1 large, ripe tomato, finely chopped
1/4 cup lightly packed cilantro (coriander) leaves, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Salt to taste

Mash the chiles and garlic with a fork to form a paste.  Add the avocado and mash until incorporated.  Stir in all but 2 tablespoons of the tomato.  Mix in the cilantro and lime juice.  Season to taste with salt.  Adjust other seasonings to taste. Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.  Sprinkle the guacamole with the remaining tomato and serve.

Makes approximately 2 cups, depending on the size of the avocados.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peach Crisp

I love the crunchy topping on this crisp!  It´s probably my favorite crisp topping which I use with rhubarb in the summer and apples in the fall.   Your house will smell wonderful when it comes out of the oven.

For the filling:
4 to 5 pounds of peaches
Zest of 1 orange
¼ cup sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup raspberries

1 cup flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 cup rolled oats
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the inside of a 9 x 12 inch baking dish.

Peel and slice peaches into thick wedges and place them into a large bowl. To make the filling add the orange zest, sugar, brown sugar and flour to the peaches. Toss well. Gently mix in raspberries. Allow the mixture to set for approximately 5 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon or more of flour if there is a lot of liquid. Pour the filling mixture into the baking dish and gently smooth the top.

For the topping, combine all ingredients in a bowl of an electric mixer or by hand with a fork. Mix until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the peach filling. Place the baking dish on a cookie sheet to prevent the juices from boiling over in your oven. Bake for 1 hour or until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Macaroni & Cheese

This mac n' cheese is creamy with a small crunch topping.  Adjust the spices to suit your tastes. I often add additional cayenne pepper for a bit of a "kick".  This recipes serves eight, so you might want to half the ingredients to feed fewer eaters. 

1/2 pound elbow macaroni (I often use 5-grain or whole-wheat macaroni)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons flour
3 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Few dashs of cayenne pepper
2 cups grated cheese

For the topping:
1/2 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup fine bread crumbs
2 dashes of the following dried spices:
     garlic powder
     black pepper
     onion powder
     cayenne pepper

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Butter a 2-quart baking dish with butter and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the macaroni and cook until al dente.  Drain in a colander and rinse under cold running water.  Drain well.

Melt the 5 tablespoons of butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour, and stir constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes.  Take care the flour doesn´t brown.  Using a whisk, add the milk in a steady stream and cook, whisking occassionly, until think and smooth (about 5 minutes).  Remove from heat.  Add salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, 2 cups of shredded cheese and stir well.  Pour into prepared baking dish.

In a small bowl, combine the topping ingredients and mix.  Sprinkle evenly over the macaroni and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 25 minutes.

Chicken Burgers

This is a great alternative to traditional hamburgers.  The chopped herbs add a wonderful, refreshing flavor.  Our family enjoys them served on pita bread.  We use either whole-wheat or herb spiced pitas, such as basil flavored pitas. 

800 grams minced chicken
4 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, thyme, rosemary and tarragon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 large egg, beaten
50 grams breadcrumbs

Freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

Suggested toppings:
Sliced tomatoes
Red onion

Mix burger ingredients together and season with salt and pepper.  Cook a tiny bit of the mixture in a hot pan to try it for flavor.  Shape the mixture into eight burgers.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and fry the burgers for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until cooked through. Serve with pita bread or toasted buns with desired toppings.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Mom´s Dinner Rolls

My mom always made these rolls.  Whenever there was a big gathering, there were rolls and lots of them!  With six kids in the family (all BIG eaters), she would double or triple the batch.  And they went fast, whether it was during dinner or in the few hours following.   I finally worked up the nerve to make them a few weeks ago and they were a big hit!  They´re great right out of the oven or reheated with jam or flavored butter.

1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons oil
1 egg
1 cup hot water
2 packages of dried yeast
2 tablespoons lukewarm water
3 1/2 - 4 cups flour (I use half white flour and half whole-wheat flour)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and butter a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Mix sugar, salt, oil, egg and hot water together in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment.  In a separate bowl, with a fork, mix dried yeast and lukewarm water to form a thick paste.  Add the yeast mixture to the egg mixture and mix until blended.  Add 3 1/2 cups flour and mix until combined.  Add additional flour, a little bit at a time, until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.  On medium speed, mix dough approximately 6 minutes until smooth and slightly tacky. 

Form into 1 1/2 - 2 inch balls and place in prepared dish with a slight gap between each one (this allows space for rising).  Let rise for 1 hour in a warm place.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until nicely browned.  Brush tops lightly with butter and serve.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Thanksgiving Dressing

This dressing is very popular among our friends in The Netherlands.  Each Thankgiving our guests are amazed by the dish and the recipe is always requested.  I love tasting it as I´m making it!

12 cups broken bread pieces
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup chopped celery
4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 cups chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, toast bread cubes 5 to 7 minutes or until barely golden. 

In a large skillet, melt butter and cook onion and celery over medium heat for 5 minutes or until softened.  Transfer to a bowl and add bread crumbs, herbs, salt, pepper, and chicken broth.  Toss well and adjust seasoning.  Transfer to a baking dish and bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 30-40 minutes until heated through and crust forms on top.

Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Pasta

This is one of my husbands favorite dishes.  I used to make it with grilled chicken since generally his idea of a meal has to include meat.  One day I made it without the chicken and he claimed it was even better! So, this is the way I make it now.

Tip:  Make the dish head of time without the parmesan cheese and basil.  This allows the flavors to come together nicely.  Add the parmesan and basil just before serving.

1/2 pound fusilli pasta (I use whole-wheat or tri-color pasta)
Olive Oil
1/2 pound ripe tomatoes, chopped
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, chopped in blocks
8 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
10 large basil leaves, julienned

6 sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
1 garlic cloved, diced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add salt and a splash of oil to keep it from sticking together.  Add pasta and cook for 9 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.  Drain well and allow to cool.  Place the pasta in a bowl and add tomatoes, mozzarella, and sun-dried tomatoes.

For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and puree until almost smooth.

Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and basil, and toss well.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sweet and Sour Meatballs

The first recipe in my journal is a definite crowd pleaser! I make these often when guests are coming for the first time. They´re quick, easy and always go over in a BIG way. Whenever I ask our oldest what he would like to eat, his first response is always, "Meatballs with macaroni & cheese". You can whip up a single batch in about 20 minutes.

Tip: Make the sauce first and let it heat while making the meatballs.

1 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
3/4 cup rolled oats
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
Few grains of freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients; mix well. Form into about 12 balls. Place in a casserole dish. Cover with sauce (see below). Bake at 350 degrees F. for about 30 minutes. Makes 6 servings, 2 large meatballs each.

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/4 cup barbeque sauce (Seasons Harvest Legend sauces are my favorite)
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

Combine ingredients and blend thoroughly. Heat and pour over meatballs.