Saturday, January 26, 2008

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Quinoa - KEEN-WAH - is a rice-like grain in the spinach family. It is high in protein and lower in carbs than rice and I think it can be used pretty much wherever rice is. Very yummy! I found a box in the organic section of my local Stop and Shop. Bonus - gluten/wheat free (Moira, take note!)

This is from the Jan/Feb issue of Everyday Food.

4 Bell Peppers

1 T Olive Oil

1 Medium Onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp ground coriander

salt and pepper

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup fresh parsley

1/3 cup walnuts coarsely chopped

1 cut coarsely grated Provolone


Preheat oven to 450 with rack in upper third. Slice a very thin layer from the base of the peppers so it sits upright. Slice off tops just below stem and remove the ribs and seeds. Discard stems, chop tops and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add onion, garlic coriander, chopped pepper tops and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, 4-5 min.

Add quinoa and cook until fragrant, 1 min. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until water has been absorbed and quinoa is tender, 11-13 min. Remove from heat and stir in parsley walnuts, and 3/4 cup of provolone. Season with salt and pepper

Dividing evenly, stuff peppers with quinoa mixture; place in 2 qt baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until peppers are tender, about 1 hour.

Uncover and top with remaining 1/4 cup of provolonebake until cheese melts 10-15 min more.

I only made two peppers and therefore halved the quinoa and pepper tops but used the same amt of onion, coriander, garlic, walnuts and cheese.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Brown Rice and Shrimp Bowl

Another Everyday Food Mag recipe, this was yummy and a nice take on 'take out at home.'

Serves 4

Salt and pepper

1 cup long grain brown rice

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (1-2 lemons)

2 T rice vinegar

2 tsp brown sugar

1 T olive oil

1 pound peeled, deveined, thawed shrimp

1/2 pound snow peas trimmed and halved on the diagonal

1 piece (1 inch long) fresh ginger peeled and cut into matchsticks

1 avocado pitted and cut into chunks

1) In a large pot bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Add rice, cover, reduce heat to low and cook until rice is tender and water is mostly absorbed, 45-50 min.

2) In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, sugar until sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

3) When rice is almost/totally done, heat oil in a large skillet over med high. Add shrimo, snow peas, and ginger, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until shrimp are opaque throughout and snow peas are bright green. 2-3 min

4) divide rice among bowls. Top with shrimp mixture and avocado. Serve Sauce on the side.

Loved the sauce on the side - I liked mine very lightly sauced and Ryan was more heavy handed. This let us make our dish the way we wanted. Yum!

Banana Pancakes

Yum! Made this for Sunday breakfast last week. Ryan loves pancakes but they dont really excite me. These, with the banana in them, were perfect for us both! From the william sonoma website, these were fab and easy!


6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter (I used much less, for the pan)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small, very ripe banana, peeled and mashed
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup for serving
Sliced bananas for serving


I didnt write down teh directions just the ingredients so here is what I did (I for example only used the butter for the pan not the batter. Oops!)

Heat skillet over medium with a little butter to coat.

Combine all ingredients and beat until just combined (few lumps remaining). Pour using a 1/4 cup measuring cup for consistency onto pan. When the edges start to set and there are bubbles popping through, flip the pancake. Finish cooking and serve. Repeat until all are done.

Serve with syrup.


Chicken Capri

I get random emails from South Beach Diet people with menu stuff and usually they get deleted. This one caught my eye though! This was SO easy. It was nice too since all the work is in the beginning so while it bakes you can make your salad or other sides without forgetting to stir, etc.
I will definitely make this again - easy and healthy hello!

But I would make some changes. I would mince fresh garlic and mix it into the ricotta. It just needed a little kick and I think garlic would be just right. Also I would use less ricotta/more tomato in terms of the proportion. I know I dont sound very convincing but trust me - use some garlic and a little less ricotta and more tomato and I *know* itll be fab!

Serves 4

1 cup reduced-fat ricotta cheese (use 1/2 to 2/3 cup)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
add 2 cloved garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup crushed tomatoes (make it 1 1/2 cups)
4 slices reduced-fat mozzarella cheese (I used shredded since I had it)


1. In a blender or food processor, combine the ricotta with the oregano, salt, and pepper. Process to blend.
2. Rub the chicken with the garlic powder. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook 12 minutes per side. Place the chicken breasts, side by side, in a large baking dish and allow to cool.
3. Preheat the oven to 350°F. 4. Spoon 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture and 1/4 cup tomatoes onto each chicken breast. Top each chicken breast with 1 slice mozzarella. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a thermometer inserted in the thickest portion of a breast registers 170°F and the juices run clear.

Nutritional Information: 340 calories 15 g total fat (5 g sat) 115 mg cholesterol 6 g carbohydrate
44 g protein 1 g fiber 470 mg sodium

Shrimp with Tarragon Tomato Sauce

This is another Rachael Ray Recipe from "Just In Time," page 184.

This was another really yummy one, and it has veggies in it that are well hidden for anyone who doesnt like them ;) I wanted to use some Rao's Marinara but I didnt actually have any on hand when I got home so Rao's Vodka sauce instead. Very yummy and I think you could use whatever your fav sauce is successfully.

2 T olive oil

2 carrots finely chopped

2 celery ribs, finely chopped

6 white mushrooms, chopped

3 shallots, finely sliced

2 pounds uncooked shrimp, thawed, shelled, deveined

1/2 cup white wine

15 oz tomato sauce (I used the whole 24oz jar)

5-6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves stripped and chopped

Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, mushrooms, shallots and saute about 7-8 minutes. Add shrimp and cook until pink and almost firm (3-4 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Add wine and deglaze.

Add teh sauce and tarragon and heat through.

We ate it over whole wheat Linguini - excellente!

Green Beans with Shallots and Bellas

My sister made this recipe from Martha Stewart this year as a wheat-allergy-friendly side for Thanksgiving and it was so good I finally remembered to make it myself! Green beans are not my favorite veggie but this recipe? So yummy AND healthy! Easy to boot!

Serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 shallot, minced
8 ounces portobello mushroom caps, cleaned, halved, and thinly sliced
3/4 pound green beans, trimmed
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add shallot, and cook, stirring, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, and cook until tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add 3/4 cup water and green beans. Season with salt and pepper, stir to combine, and reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook until beans are crisp-tender, 7 to 10 minutes. If any liquid remains, raise heat, and cook until it evaporates.

Vinegar and Honey Chicken

This is from Rachael Ray's newest cookbook, Just In Time. Page 260. This was so so so good!

2 T Olive Oil
4 Bone-in skin-on chicken breasts
3 large onions, sliced thinly
3 T fresh thyme
1/4 cup honey
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 cup Apple cider vinegar
2 cups stock
salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large pan on medium high. Season the breasts and place skin down in the hot pan. Cook 5 min, flip and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken (not cooked through yet dont worry!)

Add the sliced onion, thyme, honey, and garlic. Ad salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for about 20 minutes until onions are browned and very soft and caramelized.
Add the vinegar and scrape the pan to deglaze. Add the stock and bring to a bubble.

Put the chicken back in the pan and cover. Reduce heat to medium for 15 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway.

Uncover and bring heat to high and cook 4-5 minutes more until sauce is slightly thickened.


Mashed Sweet Potatoes

I felt the urge to make these this week and found this recipe on the Martha Stewart website. SO easy and seriously yummy. Next time Ill try to lighten it up. I used 3 potatoes instead because Ryan loves the leftovers and upped the other proportions accordingly. Changes in italics

Makes 3 cups

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
1/2 cup half-and-half
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar (I used dark since that is what I have)
Coarse salt and ground pepper


Set a steamer basket in a large saucepan. Fill with enough water to come just below basket; bring to a boil, then reduce to a gentle simmer. Place sweet potatoes in steamer basket and cover; steam until tender, 15 to 25 minutes. (I cut in smaller pieces and they cooked up much faster) Drain, and return to saucepan.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, bring half-and-half, butter, and brown sugar to a simmer, stirring to combine; remove from heat. Add to drained sweet potatoes, and mash just until smooth; season with salt and pepper. I beat it with a paddle attachment in my kitchenaid instead and added 1-2 tsp of cinnamon at the end.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Oreo Brownies

I wanted to bring something sweet to visit Marcia and the baby so knowing her affinity for oreos, I added some to my favorite boxed brownie mix. The Ghiradelli brand mixes are really good - not as good as homemade, but a pretty darn good substitute, and so quick!

All I did was make the mix as directed and folded in 1/3 a bag of oreos, broken into quarters. Baked in a 9x9 pan as directed. The result was so good... the brownies were nice and gooey and the oreo cookies made them even richer. I used the triple chocolate mix. Yum!

Mmmm Mac N Cheese

This recipe is from Giada of the Food Network. My good friend Marcia recently had her first child, a cutie named Jack, and since I know she looooves mac n cheese I made this to bring to her when I visited them. I sure looked good... decadent! I will have to try it sometime for us...

Butter, for greasing dish

12 ounces wide egg noodles (I used small shells)

2 cups heavy cream

2 1/2 cups whole milk

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more for pasta water

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 cups (packed) grated Fontina (I used a bit more)

3/4 cup (packed) finely grated Parmesan (I used more)

3/4 cup (packed) grated mozzarella (again, more)

4 ounces cooked ham, diced, optional (8 oz of cooked and crumbled bacon instead, cuz bacon makes anything better)

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves (omitted)

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Butter a 13 by 9-inch glass baking dish and set aside.

Cook the noodles in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Drain well, but do not rinse.

Whisk the cream, milk, flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper in large bowl to blend. Stir in 1 cup Fontina, 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup mozzarella, ham, if using, and parsley. Add the noodles and toss to coat.

Transfer the noodle mixture to the prepared baking dish. Toss the remaining 1 cup Fontina, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 cup mozzarella in a small bowl to blend. Sprinkle the cheese mixture over the noodle mixture.

Bake until the sauce bubbles and the cheese melts and begins to brown on top, about 20 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Chicken with Wild Rice Soup

I made this last night - so easy and good! Chicken and wild rice soup from the february Everyday Food mag
I tripled this to have leftovers for lunches and froze some as well. This plus some bread was a yummy dinner!

1 T olive oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
2 boneless skinless chicken thighs (approx 8 oz total)
1/3 cup wild rice blend

In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium high. Add carrots, celery, onion (I also added 1 chopped red pepper, but I also tripled the recipe to have leftovers). Cook stirring occassionally until vegetables are crisp-tender, 3-5 min.Add broth, chicken, rice, and 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil; reduce to a simmer, and cover. Cook until chicken is opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove chicken and put on a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, shred with two forks.
Meanwhile, continue to cook soup, uncovered, until rice is tender, 6 to 8 min. Return chicken to the pan; simmer until reheated through, about 1 min. Season with salt and pepper.
Store in refridgerator in airtight container up to 2 days, reheat over medium about 10 min. Or freeze.It was really yummy :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Soy Glazed Salmon

This is another (yes ANOTHER) Everyday Food recipe from the Jan issue. WOW. This was AMAZING. I love salmon and am always interested in new recipes since we have it so often. I have never broiled salmon before (crazy huh) but I think I need to start, this was great!

The only change I made from the recipe was I used skin-on salmon filets instead of the steaks since that is what my store had. Still was yum! Oh and only 2 pieces of salmon but used the same amt of dressing. So easy, so quick (the recipe says total time is 15 minutes and that was actually ACCURATE), we both wished we could have second helpings of it!

Serves 4


1 T soy sauce

1 T honey

1 tsp grated fresh ginger

4 salmon steaks

1) heat broiler with rack 4 inches from heat. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil; set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, and ginger.

2) Place salmon on prepared sheet; brush with soy mixture. Broil until browned on top and opaque throughout, 5 to 6 minutes.

Spinach Chicken with Balsamic Glaze

I got this recipe from Dinner with the Bickfords. Nice healthy and filling meal! I think the balsamic was a bit much, but I may have over-dressed our plates.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 tsp. plus 1/8 tsp. salt, divided
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 bell pepper (any color - I used orange), cut into thin strips
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. packed light brown sugar
1. Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with 1/4 tsp. of the salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add the chicken to the oil and cook 4-6 minutes, turning once. Cover and reduce the heat to medium; cook 4 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink in the center. Place on a plate and cover loosely to keep warm. (took much longer than this for me)
2. Increase the heat to medium-high. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic to the same skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes until the veggies just begin to soften. Add the spinach and sprinkle the vegetables with the remaining salt. Remove from the heat and toss until the spinach is barely wilted. Place on plates and top with the chicken.
3. Return the same skillet to high heat. Add the vinegar and brown sugar. Bring the vinegar mixture to a boil and boil for 30-60 seconds until slightly thickened. Drizzle the balsamic glaze over and around the chicken and vegetables.

Sesame Green Beans

This is from the Jamuary issue of Everyday Food. I am not a big green beans fan but Ryan likes em so I make them occasionally. THis was a interesting recipe - very good! I over-peppered them though so I didnt eat much, but Ryan ate his and mine :) I forgot to grab Sesame Oil, which is a big flavor, so I will try them again sometime with it.

Serves 4
1 pound green beans, trimmed
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (I just used olive oil instead)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 teaspoon sesame seeds

Set a steamer basket in a large pot. Fill with enough water to come just below basket; bring to a boil. Add green beans to basket; reduce heat to a simmer. Cover, and cook until crisp-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil; season with salt and pepper. Add green beans and sesame seeds; season with salt and pepper, and toss.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tortilla Soup

I saw this recipe on Confections of a Foodie Bride's blog. Easy though time consuming, and so so good. Next time I make it I will double it to freeze.

Texas Tortilla Soup

4 plum tomatoes

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp ground cumin

3 cups chicken stock

1 dried ancho chile pepper

1/2 (15-ounce) can peeled tomatoes

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cayenne, for heat (optional)

2 cooked, shredded chicken breasts

4 oz corn, fresh or frozen (thawed) (used about 8 oz)

For garnish:

1 Avocado, peeled and sliced

Tortilla chips or strips (omitted)

1 plum tomatoes, diced

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (used cheddar)

Sour cream (omitted)

To make the soup:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice the plum tomatoes in half. Spread 1 Tbsp of the olive oil on a baking sheet or pizza pan and arrange the tomatoes on top, skin side up. Drizzle the tomatoes with another 1 Tbsp of the olive oil. Roast the tomatos for 35 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes are slightly brown around the edges.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a heavy-bottomed, 4-qt soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and sauté about 5 minutes, until the vegetables become soft. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock, 1 cup water, and ancho chile. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, decrease the heat and simmer about 15 minutes, until the ancho chile softens.

Remove the chile from the soup and pull off and discard the stem. Cut the chile in half and discard the seeds, if desired. (Leaving the seeds in makes for a spicier soup, I left them out but the soup wasnt spicy at all, next time I will leave them in) Place the softened chile, the canned tomatoes with their juices and the roasted tomatoes (included as much as possible of the juices and browned tomato bits) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree the chile-tomato mixture about 1 minute. Transfer the chile-tomato mixture to the soup and continue simmering, covered, about 1 hour.

Add salt and pepper to taste and ground red pepper (if using) along with the cooked chicken. If using fresh corn, cut the kernels from the cobs, add the corn to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. If using frozen corn, add it to the soup and gently heat until corn is hot.

Ladle the soup into medium bowls. Lean 3 to 4 slices of avocado against the edge of each bowl, partially sticking out of the soup. Arrange the tortilla chips or strips in a similar way. Sprinkle each bowl with a handful of diced tomatoes, some cilantro, and shredded cheese. Top with a spoonful of sour cream. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Adapted from The Pastry Queen, 2004.

Artichoke Shrimp

NOTE: This isnt a pretty dish. My photos arent great bc, well, it just isnt pretty. But dont let that deter you - it tastes FAB.
This is one of my favorite meals and I can not believe it has been so long since I made it last. I came up with this years ago when I was on South Beach and wanted a hearty dinner with lots of roughage while still diet-friendly. I add noodles for ryan or anyone else who wants them.
These quantities made just enough for 5 people with only a tiny bit left over.
in your largest skillet, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil with 1.5 onions, chopped, and 4 cloves of garlic, smashed. Heat over medium until onion is transluscent. Add 6 plum tomatos, diced, and 2 bags of baby spinach (add in stages - as the spionach wilts you can add more). Add 2 cans of Artichoke hearts, torn in half and drained. Add 6-9 more tomatos, 2 pounds of shrimp (thawed, peeled, deveined), and a generous handful of pine nuts. Cover and cook stirring occassionally until shrimp is opaque through.
Add 4 oz of feta, crumbled, on top and cover for 1 more minute until its softened. Stir and top with the remaining 4 oz of feta to serve.
Great plain or over noodles!

Rosemary-Roasted Parsnips

Parsnips are one of our new favorite veggies from 2007 so when I saw this recipe on Bhutanese Red Rice blog, I printed it out to try.

I really liked this take on plain roasted parsnips - I find the parsnip to be more mild than sweet potatos or carrots, but Ryan finds them to have a stronger flavor, and did not pick up on the lime and rosemary and cayenne like I did. I thought they added a great dimension myself!


Chop up some parsnips into cubes or matchsticks.
For 3 cups chopped parsnips:
Preheat oven to 425 F.
Put 1.5 tablespoons vegetable oil on a metal baking sheet, add salt to taste. Toss the parsnips around in the oil. Spread them on the sheet.
Place two or three whole rosemary sprigs on the sheet. Bake the parsnips for 25 minutes (or until golden and crisp on the edges), shaking and tossing them around once in between.
Take them out, sprinkle cayenne powder and lime juice, garnish with fresh rosemary, and dig in.

Bark don't Bite!

I have made bark for the last few years - it is so easy and yummy and always impresses since most people see it sold at william sonoma for an arm and a leg! But its SO easy! I made two kinds this year - peppermint and cran-almond.

Melt 1.5 bag of good dark chocolate chips and spread in a 9x13 rimmed baking sheet, lined with wax paper (I also spray it). Chill in fridge till just set.

Melt 1.5 bags of white chocolate chips (if they dont melt well add a touch of shortening to smooth it out). For Peppermint bark, mix in crushed candy canes (4). Spread over the dark chocolate carefully. Top with chunky candy cane pieces, or for the cran-almond, slivered and crunched almonds and chopped dried cranberries and press gently into the chocolate.

Chill in refridgerator until competely hardened (I usually give it at least 24 hours). Pull out and break into pieces. Keeps best chilled.

Chinese New Year Cookies

Ryan actually made these this year! They are his favorite, and a fav of my grandmother's too. This is his mom's recipe, and it is beyond easy - no baking required and only 3 ingredients!

Chinese New Year Cookies
12 oz of butterscotch chips - microwave in bowl for 1 min 30 sec on medium (important so they dont scorch)
Chips should hold shape but be soft and tacky. And more time as needed but dont burn.
Stir in 7 oz spanish (red) salted peanuts and 3.5 oz chinese noodles (sold in small round tins in the ethnic section).
Stir well to combine. Drop by spoonfuls onto wax paper and let harden and place in container. Voila!

It's not Christmas without...

Peanut Butter Kisses

48 kisses

1/2 c shortening(I always use butter)
3/4 c peanut butter

1/3 c granulated sugar

1/3 c packed (light-I always just use the dark I already have on hand)brown sugar

1 egg

2 T milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

granulated sugar

1.Heat oven to 375, Remove wrappers from kisses.

2.In large bowl,beat shortening and peanut butter until well blended. Add 1/3 c sugar and brown sugar, beat til light and fluffy. Add egg, milk, and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to peanut butter mixture.

Shape dough into 1" balls.Roll in sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet
3. Bake 8 to 10 min or until lightly browned. Immediately place kiss on top of each cookie, pressing down so cookie cracks around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.



I love love love this recipe. Its a butter cookie recipe, as opposed to a sugar cookie recipe. The difference being, of course, the buttery flavor which I love!

I use the Rich Rolled butter cookie dough from my mom's Joy of Cooking (they changed the recipe in mine so I have the old recipe written in).

1 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
Beat well.
Add: 1 large egg, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp vanilla (I make it 2 because I like the added flavor).
Stir in 2.5 cups of flour until well-mixed and smooth.
Wrap the dough in plastic and put in the fridge.

When chilled, roll out on floured wax paper and cut out!

Place on greased cookie sheet and decorate with sprinkles. Bake at 350 degrees, 8 to 10 min

Cran-Orange Sugar Cookies

Every Christmas, I try to make at least one new cookie. Sometimes they make the cut to become regulars, sometimes they dont. This one DEFINITELY will! It is a light counterpart to all the chocolate and rich cookies and the bite from the orange and cranberries is both seasonal and different. I saw this recipe on Good Eats N Sweet Treats, and it is originally from Land o Lakes.

Orange Sugar Ingredients:
1/3 cup sugar (I used raw sugar)
1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel (I found I needed double the orange sugar)
Cookie Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sweetened dried cranberries, chopped
1/2 cup chopped macademia nuts (omitted)
1 tablespoon freshly grated orange peel

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all orange sugar ingredients in small bowl; stir until well mixed. Set aside.Combine 1 cup sugar, butter and egg in large bowl; beat at medium speed until creamy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, baking powder and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.
Add all remaining ingredients. Continue beating just until mixed.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll balls in orange sugar. Place 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Flatten with bottom of glass to 1 1/2-inch circles.
Bake for 7 to 11 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. (DO NOT OVERBAKE.) Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheets.Yield: 5 Dozen Cookies.

Note: these do spread alot, so give them plenty of space!

Brussels Sprouts?!?!

What? Is this green-vegetable-hatin-child actually now an adult who will voluntarily cook and eat Brussels Sprouts?! Yep! This is my 3rd new vegetable of 2007 (in addition to beets and parsnips) and like the former two, we loved it!

I saw this recipe linked on Elly Says Opa!s blog, originally from Heidi Swanson's blog/cookbook (a new cookbook of mine I might add!)

This was an easy and yummy way to cook the brussels sprouts and we will definitely make them again.

Golden-Crusted Brussels Sprouts Recipe (from Heidi Swanson's website, linked above)

This is the only way to eat brussels sprouts: cut in half and cooked until deliciously tender inside and perfectly brown and crusted on the outside.

Use brussels sprouts that are on the small size and tightly closed. You can finish these with many different types of cheese but I tend to go for Parmesan when the weather is good. I trade that in for heavier cheeses like gruyere or Gouda in colder weather. I finished them off with some toasted hazelnuts the other night - delicious!

24 small brussels sprouts

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing

fine-grain sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated cheese of your choice
Wash the brussels sprouts well. Trim the stem ends and remove any raggy outer leaves. Cut in half from stem to top and gently rub each half with olive oil, keeping it intact (or if you are lazy just toss them in a bowl with a glug of olive oil).
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium heat. Don’t overheat the skillet, or the outsides of the brussels sprouts will cook too quickly. Place the brussels sprouts in the pan flat side down (single-layer), sprinkle with a couple pinches of salt, cover, and cook for roughly 5 minutes; the bottoms of the sprouts should only show a hint of browning. Cut into or taste one of the sprouts to gauge whether they’re tender throughout. If not, cover and cook for a few more minutes.
Once just tender, uncover, turn up the heat, and cook until the flat sides are deep brown and caramelized. Use a metal spatula to toss them once or twice to get some browning on the rounded side. Season with more salt, a few grinds of pepper, and a dusting of grated cheese. While you might be able to get away with keeping a platter of these warm in the oven for a few minutes, they are exponentially tastier if popped in your mouth immediately.

I *think* I used gouda, possible Gruyere but I think it was gouda. REALLY good, the saltiness of the cheese worked well with the sprouts.

Gambas al Ajillo

I saw this recipe on An Olive Tree Grows in Manhattan, a blog with so many unique yummy sounding dishes. It is simple but seems authentic and was fabulouso.

Please go to the link to read the details on this dish! Basically, it is shrimp wiht olive oil, lots of garlic, and some red pepper flakes, just enough for a little kick that even I can handle! The recipe is so simlpe it almost seems silly to write it out, but its so yummy - try it!! Great with bread to soak up the oil (instead of serving break with butter or oil)

3/4 lb of medium sized shrimp, peeled

1/4 cup olive oil

8 cloves garlic, minced (I used crushed since I dont have the patience to mince 8 cloves!)

2 tsp red pepper flake


1. Heat olive oil in a medium pan. Add garlic, shrimp, and red pepper flake. Salt to taste. Mix to combine.

2. When the shrimp are almost completely opaque, flip them over and cook until done. Enjoy!

Baked French Toast, Christmas-style

After the hustle and bustle and some sick days, I am finally catching up on here! My sister and I decided months ago that we wanted to have a fabulous Christmas morning breakfast - not that it isnt usually good, we just wanted a step up from the entemann's coffee cake ;)

The menu included: Mimosa's during presents, Coffee with Kahlua, Cheddar-Apple Scramble, really good maple breakfast Sausage from Kane's, our local market, and this - baked french toast. THe great thing about this is you can prep it the night before, cutting out the work in the morning.

I got this recipe from my fav magazine, Everyday Food, with a few minor tweaks :) My changes are in italics

This crowd-pleasing weekend brunch (prep tonight, bake tomorrow) also makes a festive Christmas breakfast. Let the thick slices of bread absorb the egg batter for at least 45 minutes, and your French toast will be deliciously custardy throughout.

Prep: 20 minutes

Total: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serves 4

4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used Egg Nog)
1/2 cup sugar - divided (since nog is so sweet, I cut this in half)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 thick slices challah, brioche, or other egg bread (1 inch thick) (I used italian bread - it was what was available and worked just great)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 bag (10 to 12 ounces) frozen raspberries (or strawberries), thawed (I used blueberries - I set my frozen raspberries out in a bag to bring to my parents on christmas eve to prep there but left them on the counter and they thawed and leaked all over! I had frozen blueberries on hand too though and they were a yummy substitution)

In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, whisk together eggs, milk, 1/4 cup sugar, vanilla, and salt.

Arrange bread in dish in a single layer; let soak 15 minutes. Turn bread over; cover, and refrigerate until most of the liquid is absorbed, at least 30 minutes and up to overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush a rimmed baking sheet with butter. With a spatula, carefully transfer soaked bread to sheet. Bake until French toast is set in center and lightly browned on the bottom, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine raspberries and remaining 1/4 cup sugar, mashing lightly with a fork.
Remove French toast from baking sheet with a thin metal spatula; serve with raspberry sauce.

This was SO.FREAKIN.GOOD. Definitely not "resolution-friendly" but for a decadent special-occasion breakfast? So easy and delish. No pics wiht the sauce, but it was great with or without!