Category Archives: What’s 4 Dinner Solutions

Thanksgiving Files: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

In preparation for next week, I thought I would highlight a few of my favorite Thanksgiving ideas. Also, to see all of them, click on this link: Thanksgiving Files.

This is by far the most requested dessert I make.  This time of year every dinner I attend, this is what I am asked to bring. I’ll be making two tonight to take to various get-togethers  this week.  Easy, easy, easy and foolproof, but always a beautiful presentation.  If you’re looking to wow, try this one.  From 2009:

Cranberries are on sale!  Buy them now, because I’ve got some great cranberry recipes coming up.  I’m starting with this one, because if you’re going to be a guest at someone else’s Thanksgiving dinner, this is the dish to take.  It’s pretty to look at and it’s both sweet and tangy, perfect after a big dinner.  You’ll wow everyone with it and it’s foolproof to make.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups cranberries, chopped*
  • ½ cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp orange zest (rind)
  • 1 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup milk

Topping

  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1-1/2 tbsp orange juice (more as needed)
  • 2 tsp butter, softened

8×8 glass baking dish & mixing bowl

Preheat oven to 350°

Melt 3 tbsp of butter and pour into baking dish, spread to cover bottom and up the sides. Add ½ cup sugar, mix with butter on bottom of pan. Add cranberries & walnuts, spread over bottom of pan. Cream remaining butter & sugar, add vanilla, egg, orange zest, mix well. Add flour, baking powder & milk, mix until well blended, don’t over mix. Pour batter over cranberry mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and center bounces back at the touch. Invert on plate. Let cool.

Topping: Mix together butter, orange juice & powdered sugar, pour over cake and serve.

* if you don’t have a food processor, you can leave cranberries whole.

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My Black Beauty

Bixby 11 8 1422

 I’ll have an update later this week. But this is from our (daily) walk today.

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Pumpkin Squares Revisted

I make these every year and they disappear quickly. This year was no different. Not all my pumpkin creations are a success. Playing around with an oatmeal pumpkin cookie, I came up with an inedible concoction. Luckily Bixby and his playmates were not quite so discerning, so it wasn’t a complete waste of ingredients. I was glad to whip a batch of squares up after that to restore my faith in my own cooking.

Pumpkin Squares

Cake:

  •  4 eggs
  • 1-2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup oil or butter
  • 15 oz can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin spice (less if desired, I like them spicy)

mixing bowl & 13×9 baking dish, greased

Beat eggs, sugar, butter & pumpkin together, add dry ingredients, mixing well. Spread into baking dish, bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes. Cool & frost (frosting below). These are rich, so I would cut them into at least 24 squares.

Frosting

  • 16 oz cream cheese, room temp
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-3/4 cups powdered sugar

mixing bowl

Mix together cream cheese, sugar & vanilla. Mix until smooth.

You can frost & freeze in an air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.  Enjoy.

 

Originally posted 10/2011

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Braised Italian Chicken

Braised Chicken

I’m travelling this weekend, but didn’t want to leave you without a recipe exchange two weeks in a row. This is a repeat from several years ago (have we really been doing it that long?). My life is pulling me in twelve different directions right now and only a few do I have control over. That probably means between now and the big holidays, we’ll have more repeats. Once I move into my new house, I’ll be back into the cooking groove…and in a better kitchen that doesn’t make feel all stabby and want to throw things.

I have a couple of recipes that I made recently that I’ll try and put together for next week. But no promises, if next week unfolds anything like this week.

No Bixby update this week, but a few pictures of how much he’s grown, here. There is no hiding his Great Dane lineage now. BTW, in case you didn’t know it, Mrs. J works at the local shelter and JeffreyW always has lots of photos of the residents. This is a particularly cute bunch.

On to the recipes:

Chicken is our default theme tonight.

First up, Quick and Easy Barbecue Chicken, recipe here.

Grilled Lime Chicken, and additional marinade ideas, here.

JefferyW is fond of Chicken Marsala, photos and recipe here.

I’ll be out trick or treating with eight year olds tonight. What are you scaring up for the weekend? Cooking up anything good in your cauldron?

Tonight’s featured recipe:

Braised Italian Chicken

  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Dried: basil, oregano, rosemary, cayenne pepper, pepper, salt, thyme

Sauce:

  • 6-8 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini cubed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 4-6 button mushrooms, washed and sliced
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic or equivalent
  • 1/2 cup good red wine
  • 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes or equivalent (I use unsalted)
  • 2-15oz cans of tomato sauce (again, I use unsalted)
  • 2 tsp dried basil (or fresh equivalent)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (opt)
  • Pinch of rosemary
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 10-16 oz of favorite pasta (I like angel hair with this dish)

Bowl, Saucepan, Skillet, Baking dish or Dutch oven

In a bowl, mix together about 2 cups of flour and a good amount of the spices. Wash and dry thighs. Dredge in flour and fry in large skillet in about 1/2 cup of olive oil (I start with skin side down and do not touch it until it moves easily when I nudge it with a fork, then I flip it). When browned on both sides, remove to a plate with paper towels to drain a bit. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat 1 tbsp of oil and add diced vegetables, cook until the onions are translucent. Add garlic and cook for another minute, then add wine, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix well. Let simmer, covered, on the stovetop while chicken browns.

In baking dish, add enough sauce to come 1/2 way up the side of the baking dish. Nestle chicken in the baking dish, skin side up. Now here is the important part, ladle additional sauce AROUND the chicken as needed, but DO NOT cover the top. Leave enough room for the browned top of the chicken to remain above the sauce. This lets it braise and the skin still stay crispy. Bake, UNCOVERED, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. At the 15 minute mark, check to make sure the sauce is barely bubbling, if it is boiling, reduce heat to 300 degrees. Chicken is done when it gives easily, but not falling off the bone.

Leave remaining sauce on the stove to simmer on low while the chicken cooks, you’ll probably want extra for the pasta. Prepare pasta just before chicken is done.  Serve with salad or green beans and a nice deep red wine.

Prep time is a lot on this meal, so I suggest it for weekends or special guests. I also doubled the sauce and froze 1/2 for another meal.

Tonight we also get a glossary:  What is braisingWhat is deglazing?

That’s if for this week. Have a safe Halloween. Boo! – TaMara

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Magical Fruit

DSC_9264 (1600x1060)Have I mentioned that I’m only 9 years old?

Shrimp, Ham, and Kale in a Garlic, Lemon, and Butter Sauce

DSC_9255 (1600x1060)

We watched an episode on The Food Network where a New Orleans joint offers a dish called Shrimp Magazine – named for the street where the restaurant is sited.  I watched the chef prepare the dish on the video a few times and figured I had it down.  A few days pass and I am less sure but I forge ahead.  The only recipe a search turned up looked close but seemed a little off from my memory.  The chef dredged the shrimp in seasoned flour and sauteed them in butter, turning once to brown both sides and then started adding all the rest of the ingredients:  Artichoke hearts, diced ham, tons of garlic, lemon zest and juice, grated Parmesan, green onions, chopped basil, white wine, and salt and pepper – serving it all over angel hair pasta.  I went with kale instead of artichoke hearts and didn’t add the basil.

I knew the shrimp wouldn’t like being with the kale as it cooked down so I removed it to a dish as soon as it was done and only added it back to the pan with the cooked pasta to toss prior to plating.  I used white wine to help break down the kale and added lemon juice and zest along with salt and pepper.  I minced at least six cloves of garlic, using some with the shrimp as it cooked, the rest after the shrimp were removed, along with a bit of olive oil.

Everything worked pretty well although I wish the ham had a better dice, I chopped some thin sliced ham that helped the flavor but did nothing for texture.  I think next time I may use crispy bacon lardons.  Mmm… bacon!

Oh, and I need a better name for it.

 

Dinner Menu: Kid Friendly Chili-Mac

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JeffreyW’s Cornbread Muffins. His recipe:  I always use the recipe on the round box that Quaker yellow corn meal comes in as a base, these also have cheddar cheese, minced fresh jalapeno, and a thinly sliced green onion, white part and all.  A half recipe yielded 4 muffins. I used 1 whole egg in the half recipe, and about 1/4 cup of shredded cheese.

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Sorry I have been absent of late. Work has been busy and the deadline of another project I’m working on is looming, so I’ve barely seen my kitchen. Not to mention it’s fall in Colorado and I want to be outdoors whenever possible.

I doubt there will be a Bixby update this week, but he is doing well and growing daily, though he still has not caught up to his ears or his feet. Standing on his back legs he is 53 inches.

This menu tonight is from my Kid-Friendly series. I loved chili-mac as a kid and it’s still one of those quick comfort foods I make when it needs to be easy and tasty.

  1. Chili-Mac
  2. Corn Muffins
  3. Raw Vegetable Tray
  4. Apples

Chili-Mac

  • 12 oz elbow macaroni
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, diced
  • ½ green pepper diced
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 1 tsp to 2 tbsp chili powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 2 qt. saucepan, skillet

Cook macaroni according to package directions.  Drain.  While macaroni is cooking, heat oil in skillet, sauté onions & peppers.  Add hamburger, brown & crumble. Add hamburger, tomatoes, beans, chili powder & salt to drained macaroni.  Stir, let simmer on low heat for 10 minutes.

Corn Muffins

( you can’t beat those 33¢ Jiffy mixes, but this is a good muffin recipe)

  • 1 cup flour
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • 1 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 egg (well beaten)
  • 8 oz can creamed corn
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil

muffin pan, paper muffin cups

Mix dry ingredients, make well in the center, add egg, corn, milk & oil.  Stir until just moistened, don’t over mix.  Add paper muffin cups to pan, fill each 2/3 full.  Bake at 425° for 15-20 minutes.

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Variations on a (Chili) Theme

DSC_9236 (1600x1060)Mmm… chorizo chili.  This one also has ground beef, an onion, a can of tomato bits, and pinto beans.  It’s a basic chili made with a sauce of dried chilis that had been simmered and soaked then pureed in a blender with a few cloves of garlic.  Push the puree through a strainer with a spatula and discard the last little bit.  Plenty of chili leftovers, but I have a plan…DSC_9244 (1600x1060)Mmm… chili dogs!  I have these garnished with minced onions, green jalapenos, and red ripe Anaheim peppers – some of the last we will get from our container garden out on the front patio.DSC_9249 (1600x1060)Mmm… not quite Cincinnati chili.  This has everything that the five way chili has but isn’t distributed the same way.  The Cincinnati chili is seasoned differently, too.  Theirs has cinnamon, allspice, chocolate and other stuff I won’t try to replicate.DSC_9251 (1600x1060)Mmm… chili cheese fries!  This dish is finished with a couple dashes of hot sauce.  Mrs J had tater tots instead of fries but she scarfed them down before I could get a picture.  Here are a couple of puppies instead:DSC00628 (1600x1060)

Green Peppers!

DSC_9226 (1600x1060)We had a couple of pepper bushes out with the tomatoes this year.  I forget the variety names but there was at least one bell pepper and one or two Giant Marconis.  The marconis are pretty much identical to a basic green bells although they tend to be longer.  It’s threatening to frost tonight so Mrs J brought in everything of any size.  Naturally, I had to find a stuffed pepper recipe.  Not sure who Chef John is but this was a pretty good recipe.  I used a wild/long grain rice box mix instead of plain white rice, and my can of tomato bits included green chilies,DSC_9232 (1600x1060)I wasn’t able to find a sure-fire side for stuffed peppers given that the ingredients cover all the usual food groups.  I decided to go with the cucumber and tomato salad we’ve had going for a week or so.  I use a seasoned rice vinegar with salt and pepper on it, nothing fancy.  This used up a few of the peppers but we had plenty left over:DSC_9227 (1600x1060)I chopped the rest and froze them on baking trays and then transferred them to a great big plastic freezer bag.  It’s nice having a couple of big freezers to handle the garden bounty this way.

Roasted Garlic Mac & Cheese

DSC_9212 (1600x1060)Mrs J was calling for mac and cheese today to go with the chicken thighs she brought up from the basement freezer.  I looked around and settled for a recipe Google served up that looked nice.  I have to mention that the roasting head of garlic really smelled good this morning as I was gathering all the ingredients.

Toasting the panko with butter was a nice touch but I nearly let it get away from me.  Only a few of the crumbs turned black before I removed the sauce pan from the burner – the toasting was quick once the pan reached temperature.  Don’t forget to reserve some of the pasta water, it sure did look soupy going into the casserole but it needed every drop.DSC_9205 (1600x1060)The recipe mentioned ramekins and I remembered to fill these two.  I set all the dishes on a baking tray, the big casserole (13″x9″) didn’t bubble over but these little fellows did.

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