Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sauteed Peas with Mushrooms

The other day I made a pretty decent dinner. But these peas? Yeah. They totally stole the show.

In about 10 minutes, you can have a steaming bowl of Sauteed Peas with Mushrooms on your dinner table. Sure it's a tiny bit more effort than my usual pea routine, which involves throwing a bag into the microwave, but, oh, is it worth it.

Sauteed Peas with Mushrooms
Adapted from America's Test Kitchen

2 teaspoons olive oil
6 ounces sliced button mushrooms
1 small glove garlic, peeled and minced
3 cups frozen peas (No need to thaw!)
1/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon Herbes de Provence
Salt and pepper

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in peas, chicken broth, and Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until peas are heated through and the sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham

I don't know about you, but I'm still recovering from Thanksgiving. I ate so much stuffing. And so much cranberry sauce. And SO MUCH pecan pie. Good gracious, the pie.

But since I'm in the holiday mode, I'll keep on with the holiday food. Sound good?

Today we're making ham. Every time I smell ham roasting in the oven, I'm immediately transported to Christmas Eve at my parents' house in Buffalo. Ham, cheesy potatoes, five or six feet of snow. Those were good times. 

I've made ham on several occasions, and Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham is both the simplest and tastiest in my humble opinion. Sweet, salty, and just a tiny bit tangy thanks to a dollop of grainy mustard, it's the perfect centerpiece for your holiday table. 

Apricot Mustard Glazed Ham

1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons grainy mustard
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5 pound semi-boneless ham

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, mustard, preserves, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside. Line a baking dish large enough to fit the ham with foil. Place ham cut-side down in the prepared baking dish. Pour glaze over the ham. Bake until ham is heated through, about 1 hour and 15 minutes, basting with pan juices several times. Thinly slice and serve. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Mexican Lasagna

I wasn't in the mood to cook, but I had some ground turkey in the fridge that was about to get funky. I also wasn't in the mood to go to the store, so it was time to get creative with my pantry.

I pulled some flour tortillas and corn out of the freezer, a can of enchilada sauce off the pantry shelf. Let's make this as easy as possible. I thought to myself. No need to chop onion and garlic; I just used spices from the cupboard to add pizzazz to the turkey browning on the stove. Then I started layering. Zippy sauce + flour tortillas + spicy filling + creamy cheese. Repeat. Bake. Stuff face. Mmmm.

What's that they say about necessity being the mother of invention? Well, it's also the mother of dinner. Delicious dinner.

Mexican Lasagna
Serves: 4

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground turkey or ground beef
1 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 tablespoon taco seasoning*
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper
1 (14 ounce) can red enchilada sauce
5-6 flour tortillas, halved to fit in the baking dish
1 2/3 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream, for serving
Salsa, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add turkey and cook, stirring occasionally, until cooked through, about 8 minutes. If there is lots of liquid or fat in the pan, drain it off. Stir in corn, taco seasoning, and onion powder. Allow the spices to toast for 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour about 1/3 cup enchilada sauce into a 9" baking dish and spread it around so it covers the bottom. Arrange tortillas in the baking dish to cover the sauce. Top tortillas with half of the turkey mixture and 1/2 cup cheese. Cover cheese with another layer of tortillas. Pour another 1/2 cup enchilada sauce over the tortillas and layer on remaining turkey mixture and another 1/2 cup cheese. Top with a final layer of tortillas, remaining enchilada sauce (about 1/2 cup), and remaining 2/3 cup cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Allow Mexican Lasagna to rest for 10 minutes before serving with sour cream and salsa.

*I used Penzey's Fajita Seasoning. If you don't have taco seasoning, I think a mixture of chili powder and cumin would do the job quite nicely.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Curry Spiced Pecans

Halloween is over, and Christmas has officially taken over Target. That's my signal to get ready for holiday fun.

Before the busyness overwhelms us, let's whip up a batch of Curry Spiced Pecans, and we'll be ready for whatever life brings. Appetizer for girls' night? Done. Crunchy snack for the football game? Done. Make-ahead hors d'oeuvre for Thanksgiving. Done. Thoughtful hostess gift? Oh, now you've outdone yourself.

Curry Spiced Pecans
Adapted from these Spiced Nuts

1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon salt
1 pound pecans (about 4 cups)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg white, water, and salt until frothy. Add pecans and stir until coated. Drain pecans in a colander for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sugar, curry powder, paprika, and cumin. Toss spices with the drained pecans and evenly divide them between prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 50 minutes, until the pecans are dry and crisp. A couple times throughout baking, stir the pecans and rotate the baking sheets so they cook evenly. Allow pecans to cool completely on the baking sheets, about 30 minutes. Break up the nuts and serve. Pecans can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.

P.S. Here's an idea for you. I didn't use cayenne in today's recipe, but I bet these pecans would be delicious with 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne added with the other spices. Let me know if you give it a try!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Honey Curry Chicken

How do you feel about sidewalk chalk?

My boy is into it. Big time. Sometimes he colors himself, but most of the time he places requests so I can test out my artistic prowess. Or, as the case may be, my lack thereof. "Mama," he says, forcing chalk into my hand and guiding it to the sidewalk. "Draw NASCAR."

Yep. He's a car guy.

Now, along with many NASCARs in hues of pink, yellow, and blue, our back patio is littered with renditions of Indycars, fences, and air conditioners. Because I am realistic about my capabilities, I say in all honesty...they look terrible. I can't draw worth a lick.

I mention this because I took pictures of today's recipe on my back patio. That was the only place I could find decent lighting at dinner time. So I plunked my casserole dish on top of the chicken scratch and snapped away.

Honey Curry Chicken is simple and delicious. A marinade of pantry staples doubles as a rich sauce. Bonus points because it looks fancy when you top it with vibrant green cilantro.

And I think you'll's a good thing I can cook better than I draw.

Honey Curry Chicken
Adapted from Baked Bree
Serves: 4

1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup grainy mustard (or substitute Dijon)
1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon curry powder
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

In a gallon-sized Ziploc baggie, combine honey, mustard, soy sauce, and curry powder. Mush the bag together until everything is combined. Add chicken breasts and mush the bag around again until they're evenly coated. Refrigerate the chicken overnight.

When you're ready to cook dinner, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9" x 13" baking dish with cooking spray. Dump the marinated chicken and the sauce into the prepared dish and cover with foil. Bake covered for 20 minutes. Uncover and use tongs to flip the chicken over. Continue to bake until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, 10-15 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve chicken with additional sauce poured over top.

P.S. In case you're looking for a complete meal idea, I served Honey Curry Chicken with Coconut Rice, Sauteed Broccoli, and Pineapple.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins

I loved experimenting with pumpkin in a savory recipe when I made Pumpkin Black Bean Chili, but I had to return to my first pumpkin love: pumpkin muffins. Scented with warm spices and studded with mini chocolate chips, these muffins will brighten up even the dreariest fall morning.

And if you haven't reached pumpkin overload yet, check out these pumpkin recipes, too:

Aren't you glad it's pumpkin season?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Mini Muffins
Makes 48 mini muffins
Adapted from this pumpkin bread recipe

2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour*
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
4 egg whites
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt**
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a mini muffin tin*** and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, pastry flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. In a separate bowl, stir together sugar, brown sugar, eggs, egg whites, oil, yogurt, water, and pumpkin. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips.

Fill prepared mini muffin tins so each cup is full to the top. Bake for about 14 minutes, until the muffins spring back when you gently press down the top or a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely

*If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour, don't let that stop you from making this recipe! You can absolutely substitute all-purpose flour. (Use 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour.)
**I used non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt because that's what I found in my fridge. Feel free to use regular (non-Greek) yogurt or plain yogurt in place of the vanilla Greek yogurt.
***Not in the mood for mini-muffins? This recipe makes 24 standard muffins or two loaves of bread if you prefer. Bake standard muffins for 23-25 minutes and bread for about 1 hour.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger Rice

I was in search of dinner inspiration last week, and I went old school. People, I busted out the church cookbook from 2001.

These are the recipes of my youth. The casseroles, the jello salads, the cakes eaten off Styrofoam plates in the church basement. Comfort food made by people who love you. The smile on my face grew wider as I flipped through each page. Yes, I was thinking about how good Bonnie's Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole is, but more than that, I was thinking about how good the people are.

The recipe I landed on was contributed by Amy, our fearless babysitter back in the 90's. She took us to the county fair and let us swim until we were pruney. We spent summers cruising in the backseat of her giant whale of a car, listening to Billy Joel's Greatest Hits. I could hear the opening strains of Piano Man whispering through my subconscious as I made Amy's Bacon Cheeseburger Rice.

This is fall-is-here comfort food at its finest. Quick, easy, and delicious, The husband and I couldn't stop eating it. I kept sneaking bites as I was cleaning up the dinner dishes. Truth. Bacon Cheeseburger Rice will be a regular on the menu rotation around here.

Thanks for a divine hot dinner, Amy. And thanks for being such a great babysitter.

Bacon Cheeseburger Rice
Serves: 4-6
Gently adapted from the Randall Memorial Baptist Church Cookbook

6 strips bacon
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
Salt and pepper
1 3/4 cups water
2/3 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 cups uncooked instant rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook bacon until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Once the bacon is cool enough to handle, crumble and set aside. Drain all but 1 tablespoon bacon grease from the pan and return to medium heat.

Add ground beef or turkey to reserved bacon grease and cook, stirring, until cooked through. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add water, barbecue sauce, mustard, and onion powder. Bring to a boil and stir in rice. Sprinkle with cheese. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with reserved bacon before serving.