Blog Archives

Friday Recipe Exchange: Fry Breads

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I was working on the Dinner Menu for the week and lamenting the fact that I have a difficult time finding good pita breads in my area. I decided the next time I make the Chicken Pilaf and Cool Dill Dip menu (recipes and photos here) I would try using  Fry Bread as a substitute. Then I thought that would make a good topic for tonight’s recipe exchange. (I cannot lie, what really tips the scales for the recipe exchange is which pretty, yummy photo of JeffreyW’s can I highlight)

First up, JeffreyW makes Fry Bread (pictured at top) for Fry Bread Tacos, click here for recipe and great photos.  He took the same recipe and sweetened it up with honey, cinnamon and sugar, as pictured below:

DSC_7172 (1600x1060) Not satisfied with a flat product, he decided to experiment with making it into a bowl and serving it with an awesome soup in his Bean Soup in a Fry Bread Bowl, recipe and photos here.

What’s in your bowl this weekend? Do you have any special or unique family or cultural recipes to share? Hit the comments with your ideas and recipes. I love to add new flavors to my repertoire.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I turn to friend of blog, Aji for a fry bread recipe she sent me months ago, at my request: Read the rest of this entry

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Blueberry Sweet Treats

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I was thinking all week I wanted to do a dessert theme for the recipe exchange tonight and when I went to put it together this morning, blueberries are what called to me. So it went from desserts to blueberry desserts. For most recipes you can substitute any fruit if you prefer.

If fruit desserts aren’t your style, if you search on chocolate on the blog, you’ll find over 100 recipes.

But back to the blueberries. Pictured at top are Mrs. J’s Famous Fruit Pies, and the recipe is here and a lot more photos here.

JeffreyW makes a nice Lemon Blueberry Bread, combining two of my favorite flavors. Click here for the recipe and photos.

For a healthier option full of blueberry flavor, how about a Blueberry Sorbet, recipe here.

And my first try at a Blueberry Pie, which turned out pretty good for a rookie, click here for the recipe.

What’s on your plate for the weekend? What’s your favorite dessert, something healthy or total decadence? Share your thoughts and recipes in the comments.

Tonight’s featured recipe was just me goofing off in the kitchen wondering what I could come up with for something different.

Oatmeal Blueberry Cookies Final4

 

I wondered what would happen if I substituted blueberries for raisins in a traditional oatmeal cookie.  The results were tasty and moist.  The blueberry flavor was intense. I used frozen blueberries and left them frozen to keep the dough from turning into ‘smurf dough’.

Oatmeal-Blueberry Cookies 

  • ½ cup butter
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats (long cooking)
  • 1 cup blueberries

baking sheet & bowl

In bowl, cream together butter & sugar, add egg and mix well. Add cinnamon, vanilla, soda, baking powder and flour. Slowly mix in oats until well blended. Gently fold in blueberries. Drop onto cookie sheet.   Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until golden.  Makes 24 cookies.  Refrigerate.

As a note, I’ve used chopped apples instead of blueberries with great results.

That’s it for this week. If you need the Enchilada Pie dinner menu and shopping list, it’s here. Until next week – TaMara

 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Quick Pasta Meals

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Nothing beats pasta for a quick dinner. Friend of blog, LFern, often does pasta and olive oil, tossed with fresh vegetables when she needs a quick meal. I always keep a pint of frozen Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce for quick dinners. And if you need gluten-free, there many choices now in gluten-free pastas. I usually go for a nice brown rice pasta or whole wheat pasta, for added flavor to any pasta dish.

I thought for tonight’s recipe exchange it would nice to explore a diversity of flavors in quick pasta meals, moving away from the more traditional tomato or cheese sauces.

Pictured above, JeffreyW does a quick and simple pasta, sauce and cheese. I have my version of that, Hot & Sweet Penne here, which spices things up a bit.

Butternut Squash Pasta (recipe here) is one of my favorite hearty dinners that blends the sweetness of butternut squash with spicy Italian sausage.

Slow-cooker Beef and Pasta Soup, (recipe here) is a nice soup to come home to on a rainy spring evening.

Family favorite, Portuguese Beef and Pasta, recipe here, so simple, with just a few ingredients, but tastes amazing.

For a real taste treat, try this week’s complete dinner menu (and shopping list) Pasta Jambalaya  recipe here.

What’s on your menu this weekend? Do you have a favorite, quick and easy pasta recipe? Anyone make their own fresh pasta? Hit the comments and share.

For tonight’s featured recipe, I went with a flavorful vegetarian pasta dish. The recipe calls for green and red peppers, but you can use any variation. When they’re on sale, I usually buy one of each color for a really pretty dish.

Linguine w/Garlic & Peppers

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 green pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh basil leaves
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes*
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 9 oz pkg. fresh linguine (there are some really good gluten-free pastas out there if needed)

saucepan and skillet

In skillet heat oil, add garlic, red pepper flakes, green & red peppers and sauté for 5 minutes on medium heat. Add fresh basil, tomatoes, salt & pepper let simmer while pasta cooks. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain well. Toss with pepper mixture & cheese.

* you can use fresh tomatoes, about 2 large, but I couldn’t find any decent ones this time of year.

Friday Recipe Exchange: Corned Beef Cabbage Dinner

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Corned Beef by JeffreyW

Well look at that, it’s Friday and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations have already begun. I think that means we’ll revisit last year’s recipes, because I was at the store yesterday and briskets were half priced and I bought two, a tip and a flat. I’ll be doing the slow-cooker method first. Then I’ll think about grilling or pressure cooking the other. Corned beef is really one of the perfect foods to do in a pressure cooker. You get a nice, tender beef and instead of mushy, colorless vegetables, you get perfectly cooked vegetables infused with that great corned beef broth flavor.

Tonight’s featured recipe uses a bit of dill pickle juice in place of some of the water and a touch of spicy brown mustard. But I saw recipes that used chicken broth, sherry or beer in place of some of the water. I think you should experiment and use what sounds good to you. I really  like dill pickle juice. And I have become a big fan of Napa cabbage with my corned beef.

A lot of recipes call for 3-4 lbs of corned beef. When I was shopping, 4 lbs was the smallest piece I could find, most were 5-6 lbs. You may have to cut a piece in half, but since both the pressure cooker and slow-cooker recipes are easy, you don’t need to save corned beef and cabbage for a special occasion. Just freeze the other half for another day.

And the best part of a corned beef and cabbage dinner? Making Reuben’s with the leftovers. My mom makes the best ones, but I one up her by grilling mine Panini-style. Yum.

Are you a corned beef and cabbage household? Reuben fans? What other recipes do you have for the leftovers? Any good hash recipes? Doing anything special to celebrate your Irish (adopted or otherwise) heritage this weekend?

Now for the recipes:

JeffreyW tackles corned beef  leftovers – see his gallery of Corned Beef Sandwiches here. (lots of yummy pictures at those links)

My family weighs in on their favorite ways to fix corned beef, including grilling. (click here)

And, in case you missed it, my vacation plans now include cooking lessons in exchange for a nice place to stay: Have Frying Pan, Will Travel.

Now tonight’s featured recipes:

Pressure Cooker Corned Beef Dinner:

  • 3 to 4 lbs corned beef, trim the fat to about 1/4 inch
  • Water
  • Spices included with corned beef or the following: 1 tbsp black peppercorns, 1 tbsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp fennel seeds,
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed – opt
  • 1 tbsp spicy brown mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 – 6  medium to large potatoes, cut into four to eight pieces, peeling optional
  • 4-6 carrots, sliced in half and cut into 2” lengths
  • Cabbage, cut into 4 to 6 pieces

pressure cooker and cooking rack

Remove the corned beef from the brine (discarding the brine), rinse thoroughly and place in the bottom of the pressure cooker, fatty side up. [You don’t really want to brown this beef, because it’s been brined.] Sprinkle spices over the top of the beef. Add enough liquid (water or water and a combination of ONE of the following: pickle juice, chicken broth, beer or wine) to come to the top of beef, about 3-4 cups usually.  Cover and bring to pressure and let cook for 1 hour. I use the cold water method to depressurize (that is when you run cold water over the pan in the sink, otherwise you can remove it from the heat and let slowly depressurize).

The key to getting the perfect corned beef and vegetables with the pressure cooker is to cook them separately. Prep the vegetables during the last 15 or so minutes of beef cooking time. Once the beef is done, put it on a cutting board, cover loosely in foil and put a towel over the whole deal.

Remove all but enough liquid to come to the bottom of the cooking rack when placed in the pressure cooker. Place potatoes first on the tray, then carrots and then cabbage, cover and bring to pressure. Cook for about 12 minutes. The vegetables will be fork tender, not mushy and the beef will be fully rested. Slice, plate and serve.

For the slow-cooker:

Place rinsed beef in the bottom of the slow-cooker, sprinkle spices, add liquid to come to the top of the beef,  and cover. Cook on low for 4 hours. At the 4 hour mark, add potatoes and then carrots. Cook additional 4 hours, adding the cabbage during the last 30 minutes. With the exception of adding the vegetables, try to resist the temptation to open the lid. You need it to stay covered to properly cook. Let the meat rest, covered with foil for about 15 minutes before carving.

There you go, some easy ways to put together a nice corned beef dinner.

Interestingly last year there seemed to be a green cabbage shortage. I went to three different grocery stores and they were completely sold out. I didn’t want to use red cabbage because I don’t really like it. I decided to use Napa cabbage and really liked it, much more than green cabbage, it’s sweeter and has a more delicate flavor and now it is my cabbage of choice.

Enjoy your weekend and watch out for leprechauns… – TaMara

Friday Recipe Exchange: Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

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Tonight is a bit hodgepodge. While I was away, faithful contributor, Joshua D (Yutsano) sent me two tasty recipes to share. I was grateful, because lately I feel like I’m walking on ice and cannot get my feet under me long enough to cook, much less blog about cooking. I’m sitting on a folder full of great vacation pictures and some fun food stories that I can’t seem to find the time to blog about. I struggled with tonight’s featured recipe, finally settling on lamb, but not sure where I wanted to go from there and then I remembered that JeffreyW has been working for quite a while on perfecting his gyros.

And there it was, I knew what I’d feature tonight. What’s on your menu this weekend? Anything new and fun cooking in your kitchen? Be kind and share your inspiration, so I can find mine.

Moving on to tonight’s recipes, starting with Joshua D and Cilantro Lime Hummus, recipe here.

From Ruemara, thoughtfully shared by Joshua D, Cauliflower and Broccoli Cheese Soup, recipe here.

And if making a gyro loaf seems a bit too labor intensive, this Spicy Lamb Burger (click here) would work as well with pita and Tzatziki sauce.

Now the featured recipe, inspired by JeffreyW (pictured above):

Gyros with Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tbsp dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Food processor, loaf pan, baking dish

Ok, these are the general directions, but JeffreyW has been playing with perfecting the preparation, so click here and here for lots of step-by-step photos and his tweaks to make the perfect loaf.

In a large bowl, combine ingredients until well mixed and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight. Remove to food processor and process until a fine paste. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Place meat mixture into a loaf pan, pressing down on all sides. Place the loaf pan in the baking dish and add water to the baking dish to create a water bath. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes or until the mixture reaches 165 to 170 degrees F. Remove and rest covered with foil for 30 minutes. Slice and serve

Serve with:

  • Tzatziki Sauce (recipe below)
  • 4 to 6 pieces soft pita (not pocket pita)
  • Chopped fresh tomato
  • Finely sliced onion
  • Cubed peeled seeded cucumber
  • Mint sprigs

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 16 ounces plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • 2 to 3 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 5 to 6 mint leaves, finely minced

Can I just say, thank goodness for Men Who Cook here at What’s 4 Dinner Solutions, I don’t know what I’d do without you  - TaMara

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Friday Night Recipe Exchange: Taste of New Orleans

Saturday Night On Bourbon Street

Saturday Night In New Orleans (October 2010)

I’m back from my most excellent week in Los Angeles and Ventura County. I have some great photos and fun food stories to share, but work has been non-stop since I returned, so I haven’t even unpacked my camera from its bag to download the photos. I will do that this weekend.

I was mulling over what to post tonight and realized Mardi Gras is coming up soon and I have a stash of recipes that would fit that theme.

My fall back recipe when I want a touch of creole is Washday Beans and Rice (recipe here)

A trip to New Orleans a few years ago gave me my first taste of authentic Beignets at Cafe Du Monde and Po’boys at Johnny’s, I liked the sandwiches so much, I hunted down some recipes, (click here).

Dinner was fancier, Trout Amandine with Creole Meuniere Sauce (recipe here).

I flew home in time to miss the rain, but managed to drive home in white out conditions. I am so over winter, how about you? What’s on the menu for the weekend? Any favorite Fat Tuesday recipes? Hit the comments.

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The featured recipe (pictured above) is from JeffrewW tonight:

Shrimp and Andouille in a Creole Mustard Sauce

  • 1 pound uncooked peeled deveined large shrimp
  • 1 tablespoon Creole or Cajun seasoning (recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, cut crosswise on diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
  • 1 large onion, halved, thinly sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1/3-inch-wide strips
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toss shrimp with Creole seasoning in medium bowl to coat. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in heavy large skillet over high heat. Add sausage pieces, cut side down. Cook until browned on both sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer sausage to bowl. Add shrimp to skillet; cook until browned and just opaque in center, about 3 minutes. Transfer to bowl with sausage. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, onion, bell pepper, and thyme to skillet. Sauté until vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add broth, mustard, and vinegar. Stir until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Return sausage and shrimp to skillet. Simmer until heated through, stirring occasionally, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper.

Creole Seasoning

  • 1/3 Cup Paprika
  • 1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
  • 4 Tbsp Onion Powder
  • 1/3 Cup Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 Tbsp White Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Thyme
  • 2 Tbsp Dried Basil
  • 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano

Combine all ingredients and place in an airtight container.

Makes about 10 oz.

That’s it for this week. Until next week…. – TaMara

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Friday Night Recipe Exchange: Sweet Treats

Coconut Lemon Cake c2011 W4DS

Coconut Lemon Cake

Something about frigid temps makes me crave sweets. So when I was thinking about tonight’s recipes, that is what I was drawn to and lemon themed recipes rose to the top. I suppose because it brings with it a reminder of warmer climates. Which is where I am headed later in the month. Beach weather. I’ll be the pale, wind swept one by the eucalyptus tree.

One of my favorite tangy, sweet desserts is Sour Cream Lemon Poppyseeed Cake, yum, recipe here.

Sliced Lemon Poppy Seed

Since next week bring with it the ultimate date night, I thought it would be a good idea to include some special sweets: Valentine’s Day Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies, recipe here and Valentine’s Chocolates, recipes here.

Which is a good time to let you know there will be no recipe exchange next Friday. Do you have Valentine’s plans? Do you go out or stay home and cook? Or do you ignore it all together? (You should probably make sure your romantic partner is on board with that, if that’s your plan. Right?) And during these cold, cold days, what do you like to cook?

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Let’s not leave JeffreyW out of the mix, he and Mrs. J spent the cold week giving their kitchen a work out and this is one of the recipes that fortified them. Peanut Butter Granola Bars, click here.

And finally, tonight’s featured recipe (pictured at top):

Lemon Coconut Layer Cake

I have a friend who loves coconut cream pie.  I’m not a big fan, so I’ve never made one.  But when I saw a photo of a coconut-lemon cake, I thought she might like it, so I gave it a whirl.  The original cake was 6-layers, I just couldn’t fathom that, so I reduced it to a 4-layer cake.  Layering is easier to do if you use pie pans instead of cake pans.  This eliminates the need to cut each cake in half to achieve thin, even layers.  This cake works best if made the night before.  Refrigerate so the lemon filling stays firm. And shredded coconut covers any number of baking sins.

Coconut Cake:

  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 13 oz coconut milk
  • 3 eggs, separated

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 9-inch pie pans

Cream the butter in a mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until very light, 2 to 3 minutes. Beat in the egg yolks, blending well.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the creamed mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the coconut milk, and beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Add the vanilla and beat to thoroughly combine.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff, and then gently fold into the cake batter. Divide evenly and pour into the pans, spreading to the edges. Bake until a toothpick inserted into one of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool 15 minutes. Loosen and invert onto racks to cool completely.

Lemon cream filling:

  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine the egg yolks, sugar, cornstarch, water, lemon juice, lemon zest and butter in the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, boiling water. Cook, stirring, until thick and creamy, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Cool thoroughly before spreading on the cake layers.

Okay, so all the recipes for lemon filling wanted a double-boiler.  I started with one, but after 5 minutes of stirring and not thickening, I changed over to a saucepan and whisked it for 5 minutes while it boiled and thickened and had no issues with it burning or sticking.  High altitude may have been the reason for my original troubles.  Water boils at a lower temperature here, so the double boiler may not have offered enough heat to thicken the sauce.

Butter Cream Frosting:

  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  ¼ cup coconut milk
  • 2 cups shredded coconut

With a mixer, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and milk and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.

To assemble: Place first layer on cake plate, bottom side up, spread with a third of the lemon filling, sprinkle with coconut, place next layer, bottom side up, repeat and again with the third layer.  Place fourth layer, top side up.  Frost and garnish with more shredded coconut.

That’s it for this week. On Monday the full dinner menu and shopping list will post and it will be a Valentine’s dinner if you need ideas. Happy Valentine’s Day! – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Fajitas

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I know it’s a big party weekend, but since we’ve covered Super Bowl snacks twice already in the recipe exchange, I didn’t see how I could get away with it again this year. For those snacks ideas, click here and here.  All those recipes should give you plenty of ideas for your Super Bowl Party. Obligatory, Go Broncos! 

What are you making for the Super Bowl? Or more importantly, what are you making for the Puppy Bowl? Might I suggest Puppy Chow? Seriously good snack! And who are you picking for the big game?

Now about those fajitas. A while ago, JeffreyW posted about making his own fajita seasoning and I was curious. We emailed back and forth a few times about good recipes and then I was ready to make my own. I can’t imagine I will ever buy taco or fajita seasoning again. It’s easy to make and I can control the salt, which is a plus. And fajitas are a quick, simple dinner for any night of the week.

Here’s the recipe that started it all: JeffreyW’s Chicken Fajitas (pictured above), click here.

And then here’s where I went with it:

fajitas

Steak Fajitas

  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 green pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, sliced
  • 1 orange or red pepper
  • 1 to 1 1/2 lbs sirloin or flank steak
  • olive oil and butter
  • 10 flour tortillas

Fajita Seasoning

Mix together the following and store in an airtight container.

  • 2 tbsp chili powder (I used a combo of chili and ancho chili powders)
  • 3 tbsp corn starch
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Slice the sirloin very thin – which is easier to do if it’s slightly frozen,  then coat the meat thoroughly with 1 to 2 tbsp of the seasoning and set aside. I grilled onions in a bit of butter and olive oil until they were nicely caramelized, removed and set aside. I then sautéed the peppers with a bit more olive oil until they were soft, removed and set aside. Then I quickly fried up the beef in olive oil, adding a touch of lime and water at the end to create a bit of a sauce with the fajita seasoning. Served with warmed tortillas.

Easy way to warm tortilla – wrap in foil and leave in a 200 degree oven while prepping dinner.

That’s it for this week. We’re snowed under here, but I stayed warm with two good recipes this week:  Stuffed French Toast Rollups and the weekly Dinner Menu, Crispy Potato Chicken.  See you next week – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Food In Fiction

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JeffreyW does beef stew but let’s pretend it’s venison. 

I’m travelling this week, so this is going to be a quick post. But I had this inspiration when John Cole was looking for Hot Chocolate recipes and all I could think of was the movie, Chocolat. I love food in movies and books. Especially when it is just casually mentioned, to set a mood or give a little description of a character or place.

A while ago I did a series of recipes called, yes, you guessed it, Food in Fiction (you can see all those recipes here). And I wanted to highlight it tonight because I really wanted to hear if you have any favorite foods from movies or books. Have you ever explored recipes for those favorites? Would you like me to rustle up a recipe if you haven’t?

Here are three of the books/recipes I had to search out and try.  At each link is the recipe and an excerpt from the book, describing the food.

From my childhood fav, Trixie Belden, Venison Stew (click here).

My all time favorite book, ever, To Kill a Mockingbird, has many, many fun ideas for recipes that I tackled (crackling bread, anyone?), here is the most challenging, the Lane Cake (recipe here, narrative here).

A little darker book, in a series I discovered a few years ago, Lomax and Biggs, Blood Thirsty, the lead character was having dinner with his girlfriend and they had something I’d never tried before, broccoli rabe, so I had to check it out. I came up with several recipes, including Broccoli Rabe and Hot Italian Sausage Pasta  (recipe here).

That’s just a few of the ones I played with, it was a fun idea I probably should explore more when I have the time.

Tonight’s featured recipe comes from Agnes and the Hitman, in which the heroine is a food columnist and chef. It was a wealth of ideas and I put together several recipes based on the story. But this was by far my favorite and I made them for Valentine’s day one year.

A little background, these cupcakes open the book and in the midst of making them, our heroine is attacked by a young man with a gun who wants to kidnap her dog and she defends herself with hot raspberry sauce and a skillet with deadly consequences. For the full narrative, click here.

Chocolate-Raspberry Cupcakes

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Moist Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/2 cup chopped raspberries

Dry ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup dry cocoa
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Grease and flour muffin tins. Cream together oil, butter and sugar. Mix in remaining moist ingredients, one at a time, until well mixed. Sift together dry ingredients. Mix dry mixture into creamy mixture and beat for 2 minutes at high-speed. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes, until they bounce back when pressed lightly.

Chocolate Ganache:

  • 6 oz dark chocolate
  • 6 oz heavy cream

Double boiler (I use a metal bowl over a saucepan with about an 1 inch of water)

Place chocolate and cream in top of boiler, bring water in bottom half to a boil, reduce heat to med-high and let chocolate melt, stirring occasionally. When completely melted, remove from heat and stir until cream and chocolate are completely mixed. Let cool and dollop over cooled cupcakes

Raspberry Sauce:

  • 2 cups raspberries
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

saucepan

Puree raspberries until smooth, add raspberries and sugar to saucepan and heat to a low boil, stirring constantly. Let bubble  for 1 minute, reduce heat to medium low and stir constantly until thickened, remove from heat and add lemon juice. Let cool and spoon over frosted cupcakes.

Note:  While making the raspberry sauce I was never accosted by any strange men breaking into my house, forcing me to use the sauce as napalm.  Mores the pity.

That’s it for this week. If you missed it. the Dinner Menu and Shopping list for this week was Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce and Grilled Asparagus.  - TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: Pastas and Sauces

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Last year I did a recipe exchange on meatballs (here) but was surprised to see I had never done one specifically on sauces. Now sauces can be risky and start a great debate, because every family has their version. So hit the comments with your favorite pasta sauce recipe, and for that matter, pastas, because there are so many choices. Like many things, I’m not all that concerned about the right pasta for the right sauce, I say, use what you enjoy and ignore the purists.

Food should be fun. For that matter, so should wine, beer and scotch.

So let’s start out with JeffreyW’s Awesome Sauce (here) because, well, it’s awesome.

Want something a little simpler and quicker? How about his San Marzano Sauce, here.

And his Shrimp & Pasta Formaggio (here) is quick and easy, also.

When everything is in season, I like to make my sauce with fresh ingredients, so I have a Garden Fresh Pasta Sauce (recipe here) that’s lighter and fresher than tonight’s featured recipe.

When it comes to pastas, I favor two options, a nice spiral (fusilli or rotini) or a quick cooking Angel Hair (capellini), but if I can get it fresh from the farmer’s market, I’ll take what I can get, which is usually a linguine. It’s all tasty.

For the featured recipe, I went with my traditional family sauce, the one I grew up with, but with a few tweaks. Now, even in my family, half of which are Italian, even the most basic sauce has as many different variations as there are cooks, so this is just a place to start, add your own touches to make it your family tradition. This is a hearty sauce and my go-to in the colder months when fresh ingredients are not readily available. I always double this and freeze half for a later dinner.

Spaghetti w/Meat Sauce

  • 9 – 12 oz pasta of choice (I like angel hair for this recipe)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 tsp. crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or 1/2 beef and 1/2 spicy Italian sausage)
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 3 tomatoes, diced (or 14 oz can diced tomatoes)
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 3 tsp dried basil, crushed*
  • 2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 carrot, finely grated or 1/2 tsp sugar (these reduce the acidity of the sauce and bring out the spices – trust me on this one – I prefer the carrot, myself.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • red pepper flakes (opt) to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese

2 saucepans and large skillet

In skillet, heat oil, sauté pepper, onion, garlic.  Add hamburger and cook thoroughly.  Add tomato paste and 1 tsp ea of crushed basil, oregano and rosemary, mix well.   In saucepan, add remaining ingredients and bring to a low boil, reduce heat, add meat mixture and let simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Cook pasta according to directions, drain well and serve with sauce and Parmesan cheese.

*CRUSHING Spices – when using dry spices, to get the best flavor, you should crush them, either by rubbing them in your hand or using a mortar and pestle before adding them to a recipe.

That’s it for this week. I know I still owe you a recipe to go with this delicious looking Cream of Chicken Soup I made this week. And if you missed it, here is the Dinner Menu and Shopping list for the week, Pasticcio and Salata Meze. - TaMara

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