Woot! Finally, I Can See The Finish Line

The newest book is ready to go to the publisher – just finalizing the cover and figuring out how best to format the recipes.

A sneak peek of Chapter One can be found here.

Meanwhile, in my kitchen, I’ll be making Frozen Spinach Ravioli Lasagna tonight. Part of my Frozen Shortcuts. Everything doesn’t have to be gourmet, but it does have to by yummy.  I’ll post photos and recipe tomorrow.

In other news, in the odd kismet that happens sometimes with JeffreyW and myself – I’ve been making Smash Burgers all week for lunch. Maybe I’ll do a tutorial this week on how best to achieve that crispy thin burger.

Until then…

Frozen Shortcuts: Air Fried Potstickers

There are a few things I don’t make from scratch, and potstickers are one of them. I did make them once and vowed never again.  Not when there are some very tasty frozen versions out there. The amount of ingredients, skill, and time needed is daunting.

These were a Costco special – you know the drill, the nice lady gives you a yummy sample and then tells you what a great deal they are today. How can you resist?

There are plenty of excellent choices out there, including vegetarian, chicken, pork and shrimp.  These are chicken and veggies.

I usually fry them lightly in oil and then steam them for a quick lunch or dinner.  Add a bit of oil to a skillet, heat, add potstickers, flat side down and fry until they are lightly browned. Add enough water to come to up the side of the potstickers, cover, and steam for 5 minutes.

I decided I wanted to try air frying them, per the directions on the bag.  Since I have a convection oven and not an air fryer, it took a little longer at a higher temperature. That compact air fryer definitely has its advantages. Cooking times are one.

The recommendation is to preheat to 390 degrees F. Coat the potstickers lightly in oil and cook for 8 minutes. Convection oven worked best at 425 degrees F, for about 16 minutes.

Serve with sesame seed and Ginger-Soy dipping sauce:

Ginger-Soy Dipping Sauce

Mix together:

  • 2 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or fish sauce or rice vinegar)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (or more as desired)
  • 2 chopped green onions (including green)

Holiday Gifts: Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies

Someone asked me for this recipe this morning, and after I shared it with them, I decided to make a batch myself.

From June:

I really like these cookies, they’re simple to make and gluten-free. But one thing about them is they are terribly sweet. So I decided to see what would happen if I cut the sugar down considerably.

They turned out super – not too sweet and super peanut butter flavor.  Changes are in blue.

Peanut Butter Cookies (Revisited)

(makes 12-18)

  • 3 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg

baking sheet

Cream ingredients together and drop by spoonful onto a baking sheet. Dip a fork in sugar and press down the dough. Bake at 300 degree F for 10-13 minutes.

This usually gets a good, soft cookie, but I wanted to try for a crispier outside. But they are prone to burning. So at the 13-minute mark, I turned off the oven and let them sit for 5 more minutes. They turned out perfectly – crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside.

Maybe this will keep me from eating all the toffee that is supposed to be for Christmas Eve, LOL

Holiday Gifts: The Cookie Tray

We haven’t done the annual cookie bake – where a few of us get together and bake our favorite cookies and swap them for our gift trays – since pre-pandemic. We had good intentions this year, but we couldn’t get the timing right.  But I thought I’d still share all the recipes.

From 2017:

Sunday is my annual cookie baking day with friends. Most of goodies are going into gift boxes, but I’ll hold enough back for my annual Christmas Eve dinner. This is the usual round-up.

Pictured above:

Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies, recipe here

Spritz Cookies, recipes and instructions for using a cookie press here.

Pecan Cookies, recipe below.  Much more below the fold.

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Holiday Gifts: Cranberry Upside-Down Cake

The recipe can be found here. 

I wasn’t in the mood to chop cranberries or drag the food processor out, so I left them whole. I think I prefer it that way.

Also, I bought a bag of White Lily Unbleached Self Rising Flour, 5-lb bag a while ago to use in biscuits and decided since this is basically a biscuit cake, I’d try it this time around for this recipe. It was a game-changer. Especially at altitude, it’s so difficult not to end up having a heavy (yet yummy) cake like this.

It’s probably not a necessity at sea level, but up here, it was worth the expense (and yes, it is expensive to order a bag of flour, LOL).  The flour makes authentic southern biscuits that I can’t replicate with regular unbleached flours (even King Arthur).  I should probably do a post on how using the White Lily flour came to my attention. That’s for another day when my kitchen doesn’t look like it qualifies for FEMA assistance and the dogs need walks.

This recipe is for sure going to end up in either the Halloween or Christmas Duxbridge Mysteries Novellas.

until then…

Snowy Day Soup: Pasta e Fagioli

This year for my Dad’s Christmas present, I’m including a dozen+ frozen dinners. Chili, beef stew, pot roast, and tonight’s installment:

Pasta e Fagioli Soup

  • 1 lb ground beef*
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp basil
  • ¼ tsp thyme
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz carrots, sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2-14 oz cans diced tomatoes or tomato puree
  • 15 oz can red kidney beans
  • 15 oz can white northern beans
  • 16 oz chicken broth*
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • ¼ to ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 small bay leaf (remove before serving)
  • 8 oz ditali or small shell pasta

large saucepan or dutch oven  Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Chili, Cornbread and Collard Greens

Photo from JeffreyW

Quick and Easy Chili

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 3-5 Jalapenos finely chopped (depending on heat)
  • 1/2 green pepper chopped
  • 1/2 sweet onion chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped
  • 16 oz V8 Juice (I use the spicy version)
  • 3 cans kidney beans drained and rinsed*
  • 1 can Original Ro-Tel
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (more as desired)
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

Continue reading

Saturday Comfort Meal: Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

 

I butterflied chicken breasts tonight and tossed them in a homemade “shake n bake” before pan frying them, and my earworm is a little southern girl saying, “…and I helped”

It’s pretty easy and quick. Served with electric pressure cooker mashed potatoes and pepper gravy.  Salad or green beans (hey, I bet you still have some zucchini in the garden!) make for a complete dinner.

Butterflied Pan Fried Chicken Breasts

  • 1 lbs boneless chicken breasts
  • 2 – 3 tbsp flour (if you want “crunchy chicken, add 1/2 cup of panko or bread crumbs)
  • About 1/2 tsp each: salt, pepper, dried basil, dried oregano, dried sage, garlic powder, and a dash of cayenne (more as desired)
  • olive oil (not EVOO)

cast iron skillet, gallon zipper bag

Butterfly the breasts, cutting them completely through so you have several thin cutlets.

Add them to the zipper bag, as many as you can, and have them lay flat. Pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick. Remove and repeat until all cutlets are pounded.

Place the breasts back into the bag.  Mix all the herbs and spices together, grinding together, using a mortar and pestle if you have them. Otherwise, you can use the back of a spoon in a bowl.  Add the mixture to the bag with the breasts and toss until they are well coated.

Heat oil in skillet on medium-high

Add flour to the chicken mixture and toss until all chicken is well coated, as more as needed.

Now it’s time to add breasts to the skillet. Test a bit of the moist flour and make sure it sizzles in the pan, then add breasts. Don’t crowd, you may have to do in two batches (make sure the oil heats back up). Reduce heat to medium and cook until golden brown on both sides 160 degrees F. Remove to paper towel or cooling rack. They will climb to 165 quickly.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper.