Friday, December 28, 2012

Vietnamese Chicken Salad

David made a huge Vietnamese feast for us last week, including Beef Pho and Vietnamese spring rolls.  I offered to make one of the dishes he had lined up, so he assigned me Gà Xé Phay, Shredded Chicken Salad.  It was great (as were his dishes).  Although we had it as a side dish, this could certainly stand on its own as a main course.  Easy, too. 

 Gà Xé Phay, Shredded Chicken Salad
serves 4 as a main dish

2 fresh hot chiles (The recipe called for red chiles, thai or serrano.  I could only get green, so I used one large jalapeno.)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. sugar
1 T. rice wine vinegar
3 T. fresh lime juice
3 T. fish sauce (The recipe called for Vietnamese sauce; I used Thai)
3 T. vegetable oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
4 cups shredded white cabbage
2 carrots, julienned
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
freshly ground black pepper
cilantro for garnish

Seed hot peppers, then mince and put in a large bowl.  Add garlic, sugar, vinegar, lime juice, fish sauce, oil, and onion.  Mix until sugar dissolves.  Add chicken, cabbage, carrots, and mint.  Season with black pepper, mix, and garnish with cilantro.

Adapted from:  (And if you look at this web page, you'll see links to other Asian chicken salads--all of them look good!)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Salmon with a brown sugar & mustard glaze

At the end of the season of our share purchasing of Alaskan salmon, all the purchasers were invited to a very nice local restaurant, En Season, where the chef demonstrated a few different ways of cooking salmon and then we all got to eat it--a fun evening.  We also got a few recipes, one of which I tried  tonight and really liked.  I thought the sauce might overpower the taste of the salmon, but not at all.  Here's my slightly adapted version:

(scale the amount of sauce up or down for more or less fish)

1-1/2 lb. salmon fillets
1 T. brown sugar
1/2 T. honey
1 T. butter
2 T. Dijon mustard
1 T. soy sauce
1 T. olive oil
2 t. grated fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 375.  Melt the sugar, honey, and butter in a small sauté pan over medium heat.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, soy sauce, oil, and ginger.  Let cool a bit.  Put salmon on baking tray skin side down.  Spoon the glaze over the salmon and bake (skin side down) until done, between 10 and 20 minutes or so, depending on thickness of the fillet.  Salmon can also be grilled, if you prefer.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oven-fried Fish & Chips

This is a simple and tasty recipe that I found when looking on the web for something to make with haddock.  (The recipe also suggests cod.)  I often make roasted potatoes, but I don't slice them this thin--was a nice change.  This is a "homey" dish, best suited for a family meal, or to share with good friends who are over for supper.

oven-fried fish & chips
adapted from
4 servings

olive oil cooking spray
1-1/2 lbs. potatoes, washed, patted dry, and cut into 1/4" thick wedges
2 t. olive oil
1-1/2 t. Cajun or Creole seasoning, divided
2 c. cornflakes, crushed
1/4 cup flour
1/4 t. salt
2 large egg whites, beaten
1 lb. cod or haddock, cut into 4 portions

1.     Position oven racks in upper and lower third of oven.  Preheat oven to 425.
2.     Coat one large baking sheet with cooking spray (or cover with foil and spray the foil).
3.     Set a wire rack in a second baking sheet, and coat the rack well with olive oil spray.
4.     Put the potato wedges in a large bowl and toss with the 2 t. oil and half of the seasoning (3/4 t.)  Spread in one layer on the baking sheet without the rack.  Bake on the lower oven rack for 20 minutes, turning them half-way through (just toss around—no need to turn individual pieces).
5.     While potatoes are cooking, coarsely grind cornflakes in a food processor or crush in a plastic bag. 
6.     Mix up the flour with the rest of the seasoning (3/4 t.) and the salt
7.     Line up three flat dishes.  In the first one put the flour, in the next one the beaten egg whites, and in the third the crushed cornflakes
8.     Dredge the fish in the flour mixture, then dip in the egg white, and then coat all sides with the cornflakes.  Place on the oiled wire rack.  Spray top of fish with olive oil spray.
9.     Put the fish on the top oven rack (leaving potatoes in the oven) and cook for about 20 minutes—until fish is opaque in the center an the breading is golden brown and crisp.  (This gives the potatoes 40 minutes altogether in the oven.)

I halved the olive oil on the potatoes.  The nutrition info for the original recipe is:  325 calories, 5 g fat, 45 g Carbohydrates, 3 g fiber

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bulgur with Dried Cranberries

This recipe is similar to tabbouleh, but with cranberries instead of tomatoes.  Even though similar, it has a quite different taste, and much as I love tabbouleh, I think I prefer this--delicious!!  Really easy, too.  (By the way, I ended up making a huge batch of green enchilada sauce with the green tomatoes--enough to last all winter.  I still have a lot of tomatoes left, but they are ripening nicely, left in a brown paper grocery sack.  Let me know if you'd like me to post the sauce recipe.)

Bulgur with Dried Cranberries
adapted from Cooking Light, November 2009
about 8 servings

1 cup coarse-ground bulgur
half of an English cucumber, cut in 1/4" dice
1 c. dried cranberries
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 t. grated lemon rind
1/3 c. fresh lemon juice
ca. 3 T. olive oil [original recipe called for 1/3 c., but this amount was fine—I measured 1/3 cup of lemon juice into a glass measuring cup, and then filled to 1/2 c. with oil, which is a little less than 3 T. olive oil]
salt and pepper to taste

Put bulgur in a large boil.  Cover with 2 cups boiling water.  Cover the bowl and let stand 30 minutes.  Liquid should be absorbed—can drain off any that's not.  Fluff with a fork.  Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.

Stats for a 1 cup serving, if using 1/3 c. olive oil:
Calories: 197
Fat 9.6
Fiber 4.7 g
Calc 27 mg

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Last tomatoes from the garden

I was away from home for a week, and when I got back this evening the forecast was for the temperature to go below freezing.  So, I took a flashlight out to the garden and picked all the Brandywine and Roma tomatoes I could see, and also picked cherry tomatoes that were ripe.  Now I have to look for some recipes for green tomatoes.  I have a recipe for enchilada sauce that's good, but maybe I'll find something else.  By the way, if you're looking for a good tomato for your own garden, I highly recommend Brandywine, an heirloom variety.  They taste great, and they are not prone to bugs or other damage.

And in another day or two, I'll post on StudioNotes about what I was doing during the week away. . .

Monday, August 13, 2012

Simple Salmon

One doesn't usually think of Galesburg, Illinois as a great place for seafood, but we're very lucky to be the home location for Sitka Salmon Shares.  David and I have been enjoying our first delivery of our share of sockeye salmon, which came with this simple and delicious recipe.  Our garden has an abundance of cherry tomatoes and basil at the moment, so this was perfect.

adapted from recipe from  Sitka Salmon Shares

1 lb. salmon fillet
12 or so cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
10 big basil leaves
2 T. olive oil

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.

Cut salmon fillet into 2 equal pieces.  Lay out two sheets of aluminum foil large enough to completely wrap around each fillet.  Brush each sheet of foil with olive oil and place fillets, skin side down, on the foil.  Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Layer salmon first with the sliced cherry tomatoes and then the basil leaves.  Drizzle remaining olive oil equally over each.  Close each foil package tightly, making sure all edges are crimped together tightly.

Place the foil packets in a metal baking dish or jelly roll pan.  Cook salmon for about 10 minutes (medium rare) or 13 minutes (well done).  Remove from oven, and let the package cool for a couple of minutes before opening.

Friday, July 20, 2012

An exceptional summer dessert: Plum Galette

I have made this dessert twice in the last ten days, first for a dinner with another couple, and then the other evening, just for David and me.  We each had a piece for a late night treat, another piece each for breakfast, and then we split the last remaining piece for dessert tonight.  This is so good.  Really, you should try it.  I had never made a dessert with plums before, but now I'm looking for other recipes.  I found a recipe for a cold plum soup that looks good too.  Or I might just make another plum galette. . .

This recipe is adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts, by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson.  I bought this book after seeing it well-reviewed in a number of places, but the recipes seemed more complicated than I felt up to.  I made this a lot simpler by using a prepared pie crust instead of making a galette crust from scratch.  My mother made great pie crusts, and I've tried, but I don't seem to have the touch.  I think the store-bought ones are a great invention!  Addition 9/24/15:  In the years after posting this recipe, I have become more confident in making pie crusts, thanks to the purchase of a silicone pastry mat, which the crust doesn't stick to, and which makes clean-up much easier.  So, I've added below the recipe for the galette crust that comes from the same book.  It is good enough that I think it's worth the extra effort; this is how I make the galette now myself.  But a store-bought crust is fine too.  And one other tip:  If you want to serve this with something less caloric than creme fraiche or ice cream, try Low Fat Vanilla Cream.

(adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts)
serves 4-5

1 prepared pie crust (I use Pillsbury)
1/2 c. + 2 T. granulated sugar
seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean (or you could substitute 1 t. vanilla extract)
1 T. cornstarch
1/2 t. fine sea salt
5 plums, pitted and each cut into eighths
vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche for a topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Cut the plums into eighths and put in a medium-sized bowl.
Line a rimmed baking sheet (or jelly roll pan) with parchment paper.  (You need the rim, because juice from the fruit is likely to drip out of the crust, and you want the pan to catch it.)  Lay out the pie crust on the pan.

Put the sugar in a small bowl.  Split open the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds with the blade of a knife.  Rub the vanilla bean seeds into the sugar.  Add the cornstarch and salt and mix to distribute.  Sprinkle 2 T. of the mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border around the edge.  Toss the rest of the mixture with the plums.

Lift each plum slice from the juice, and arrange the slices on the dough, skin side down (so they're kind of standing up), in a spiral beginning 2 inches from the outside edge and ending in the center.  If you have a few extra slices, squeeze them in or lay them on top.  Drizzle some of the plum juice over the fruit.  Fold the outer edge of the dough over the outermost plums, pinching the dough together as necessary.  Put the galette in the refrigerator for 20 minutes to chill.

Bake the galette for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes, until the crust is golden and the fruit is bubbling.  At that 30 minute point, if the crust is already getting dark, loosely cover it with aluminum foil.  (Or if OK then, check later, into the 20 minutes).  

Cool for 30 minutes before serving.  It's delicious as is, or you can serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche.

Storage: Covered with a tea towel, the galette will keep at room temperature for up to 2 days.

makes one 13" galette crust

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 T. granulated sugar
3/4 t. fine sea salt
3/4 cup (6 oz) cold unsalted butter
1/3 cup ice water, or more as needed*
1 t. lemon juice, fresh or bottled

Put the flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl, stir to combine, then put the bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes.

Cut the butter into half-inch cubes, then add to the flour mixture and toss until each cube of butter is coated with the flour mixture.  Put into a food processor and cut the butter into the flour until the ingredients become coarse and crumbly and the butter is slightly smaller than a pea. (Or you can use a pastry blender or your hands.)  Don't take the dough out of the processor yet.

Stir the water and lemon juice together, then drizzle over the dough, and give a couple of quick flicks of the processor blade to distribute the liquid.  (Or if by hand, toss dough with a fork.) The pastry will be shaggy but should hold together when squeezed in the palm of your hand; if not, add an additional teaspoon or two of ice water.

Dump the pastry onto a lightly floured work surface and press down on the dough, folding it over on itself a few times until it holds together.  Try not to handle it too much.  Flatten the pastry out into a disk about 1" thick.  Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.  (If well wrapped, the disk will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer.  If frozen, defrost in the refrigerator overnight.

When ready to assemble the galette, roll out the dough into a 13" circle.  Transfer the circle to the prepared baking sheet.  Then

*The original recipe said to start with 3 T. water and add more as needed, but I found more was needed. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Cold Beet & Buttermilk Soup

My friend Carol mentioned to me that she was making my recipe for cold beet soup.  With a stretch of days above 100 degrees here in the midwest, it is definitely the weather for this soup!  Very simple, beautiful, and tasty.

I have gone back into the labels for recipes and changed "cold soup" to "soup-cold," so that it is easier to find these in the alphabetical list of labels on the right side of the blog page.  

adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites

4 cups chopped cooked beets (two 15-oz cans, drained and coarsely chopped are fine.  If using fresh, about 1-1/2 lbs.)
3/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
2-1/4 cups buttermilk
1 T. minced fresh dill
1/4 cup minced scallions or chives
salt to taste
1/2 a large cucumber, seeded and finely chopped

This recipe is simple and good; very refreshing in hot weather.

Combine the beets, apple juice, and buttermilk in a blender or food processor and purée until smooth.  Transfer to a bowl and stir in the dill and scallions or chives.  Add salt to taste.  Chill for at least 2 hours.  Serve topped with chopped cucumber.  (Or you can also just stir in the cucumber before chilling the soup.)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Carrot Salad to go with the quick meals

For most of the quick dinners, I've said, "With a salad, this will make a full meal."  Usually this is a green salad, but if I don't have lettuce on hand, or am tired of green salad, I'm likely to make one of these carrot salads; they're both easy and delicious.  Also good for bringing to potlucks; either can be doubled.

And if I don't feel like making any salad at all, with luck, I'll have a grapefruit in the refrigerator, and half of that will do nicely.  Even without a maraschino cherry in the center, the way my mother used to serve it.

(4-6 servings)
adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet cookbook

Grate the carrots. If using a food processor, you can put 1" chunks in the bowl and use the chopper blade, or you can put carrots (cut in half) in the feed tube and use the grater disk.

1 lb. carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 cup dried currants

3 T. lemon juice (frozen is fine)
2 T. olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 t. or more sugar, to taste
1/2 t. cumin
1/8 t. cayenne
1/4 t. dried mint leaves, crushed
salt and black pepper to taste

Put carrots and currants in a bowl.  In a jar or small bowl, combine the dressing ingredients.  Add dressing to carrots and toss to mix well.

(6 servings)
adapted from Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet cookbook

4 cups shredded carrots
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup currants
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) lemon juice
1 t. cumin

Toast the almonds lightly:  put on baking sheet and put in 325 oven for about 5-10 minutes.  Keep checking on them until they look light tan.

Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Serve at room temperature.

Omelet Paysanne

Here's another simple recipe for a quick meal.  I keep a can of potatoes on hand for this.  For the meat:  I buy a turkey ham, cut it into slices about 3/8" thick, separate them with waxed paper, and keep in the freezer, pulling out one slice to use for this recipe.  I also keep some chopped parsley in the freezer, in case I don't have fresh on hand.  If it's summer, I put in chives from my garden; if not, I leave them out.  With a salad, this dish makes a full meal.  David and I usually eat half of this recipe for dinner, and then have the rest for breakfast or lunch the next day.

Omelet Paysanne
adapted from Pierre Franey, The New York Times 60-Minute Gourmet
4 servings

1 T. vegetable oil
half a medium onion, very thinly sliced
one 14-oz can of potatoes, sliced or diced (or you can boil a potato or two)
1 cup cooked turkey ham, cut into 1/2 inch dice (or regular ham)
7 eggs (can use some eggbeaters for part of this)
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. chopped parsley
2 t. chopped chives
1/4 t. dried tarragon

Heat a large oven-proof skillet and add the oil.  Saute the onions until soft, about 4-5 minutes.  Add the potatoes and cook until warmed.  Add the turkey ham and cook until warmed. 

Turn on the broiler.

Beat the eggs with a wire whisk.  Add salt, pepper, and herbs.  Pour the eggs over the onion-turkey ham-potato mixture.

Cook the omelet, lifting the edges to let the egg mixture flow to the bottom.  When the eggs are no longer free-flowing,  put the skillet under the broiler for a minute or so to finish the cooking.

With a salad, makes a full meal.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sante Fe-Style Baked Eggs

Here's the first of some recipes that are in the category:  "I'm up to a little cooking, but I only have about a half-hour to get the meal on the table--it's got to be simple."

This recipe is my favorite in this category--it is really tasty, and very simple to make.  I don't always have chipotle pepper sauce on hand, but tabasco sauce or some cayenne pepper does fine.  I think what makes this especially easy is there's no onion to cut up and saute, which is so often the first step for a skillet-type meal.  Every time I make this, I think, "This is really so easy and delicious--why don't I make it even more often?"  I keep the canned foods stocked in my cabinet, and always have eggs, so I just have to think to have tortillas and some cheese on hand.  I keep some chopped parsley in the freezer, in case I don't have fresh, and I'm guessing dried parsley would be fine if that's all you had on hand.  I'm trying to convince you here--try this one!

santa fe-style baked eggs
adapted from Weight Watchers All-Time Favorites (2008)
serves 4

4 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1 (14-1/2 oz) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes (or diced tomatoes with Mexican seasoning—look in Mexican-food section of grocery store if not with other canned tomato products--or regular stewed tomatoes and add more pepper sauce)
1 (15-1/2 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c. jarred roasted red peppers, diced  (I buy a large jar, dice all the peppers, and freeze in 1/2-cup portions, so I have this on hand.)
3 T. chopped fresh parsley (divided 2 T & 1 T)
3/4 t. chipotle pepper sauce (or use some hot sauce—go easy, especially if canned tomatoes are spicy hot)
4 large eggs
1/4 c. shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese (or other taco-style cheese)

Preheat oven to 425.

Combine the tomatoes, beans, roasted red peppers, 2 T. of the parsley, and the pepper sauce in an ovenproof skillet; bring to a boil over medium heat.  Reduce the heat and simmer about 4 minutes.  Break the eggs, one at a time, slipping onto the top of the sauce, spacing them evenly.  Put in oven and bake until the eggs are almost set, 6-8 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese and the remaining 1 T. of parsley on top of the eggs; bake until the cheese is melted, about 1 minute.   Remove from oven.

Put the tortillas on a plate and heat in the microwave  (about 15 seconds per tortilla).
Put one tortilla on each plate and spoon the eggs and sauce over the tortilla.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What to cook when you don't feel like cooking?

My friend Laura recently asked, "What do you cook when time is short and you don't feel much like cooking?"  Good question!  It seems a little heretical to write about the most simple things I put on the table on just that kind of day, but why not?  I'm sure Laura and I aren't the only people who enjoy cooking, but don't always want to cook. . .  So, in this post I'll write about the things I do that involve the most minimal effort.  Then I'll do another post or two on things that are a little more work, but still are ready within a half-hour or so.

My first line of defense is that I almost always cook more than we are going to eat at one meal.  So, for a week of cooking, I am never cooking more than 3 or 4 dishes, counting on a second meal from each recipe.  I'm cooking for my husband and myself, so any recipe for four will yield two meals.   When I'm making soup, or a recipe we like that can readily be doubled, I'll put aside the extra in the freezer.  A typical week of meals is three things cooked new and one meal taken from the freezer.  Or, instead of taking something from the freezer, an almost-as-simple meal is one of the following:

1) I heat up a can of Indian food (e.g. Jyoti Madras Sambar), and serve it on top of brown rice, with a side of plain yogurt and condiments like raisins, chopped nuts, chopped hard-boiled egg, scallions, chutney.  I usually have brown rice on hand in the freezer, so I don't need to wait for that to cook.  (Whenever I make brown rice from scratch, I make more than I need and freeze it in 2-person size portions.)  Or, you could make white rice, and be ready in 20 minutes.  This is really a good entrée, even though it comes in a can!

2) Even simpler than #1, use a can of garbanzo beans instead of the can of Indian food.  For this you'd really want brown rice, not white.  Same condiments.

3) I heat up a package of Hormel beef tips (in the refrigerator section of the meat department), and serve them over egg noodles.  This needs a side dish--generally some carrots, or a frozen vegetable, or a salad.  I've tried a couple of other of the Hormel prepared meats, but none is up to the beef tips, which are really good.  An unopened package lasts quite a while in the refrigerator; I generally have one on hand.

4) I make up some matzah fry and serve it with canned soup to round out the meal.  To make matzoh fry for 2 people:  Break 4 eggs into a bowl and mix until blended.  Break up 3 sheets of matzah into the eggs and stir until the matzah is moistened.  (Pieces about the size of a quarter or so--not crucial how big or small.)  Add salt and pepper and cook in a frying pan.  For a nice ready-made soup, I like the Campbell V8 soups in boxes, with the butternut squash soup and the red pepper soup favorites, but all are good.

5) Many of these meals are enhanced with a quick salad.  For this I use a bag of mixed lettuces (spring mix is my favorite, but mostly I choose by the latest "use by" date on whatever is in the store), a chopped red pepper, and chopped scallions.  For a bit of flare I add a handful of dried currants or some calamata olives, sliced.  To make a full meal from this salad, I add a can of tuna fish.  Oh, another time saver:  I make a big bowl of salad with the whole bag of greens, and then we have a ready-to-go-salad for 2-3 meals.

6)  A couple of grocery-store available products that are also good for quick sides:
  • Uncle Ben's Ready Whole Grain Medley (e.g., Vegetable Harvest).  This product is on the shelves with rice, in a bag--precooked rice, so just heats up in the microwave.
  • Birds Eye Steamfresh Frozen vegetables--we especially like "Beans with a Twist" which includes green and yellow beans, carrots, and dried cranberries.
So, once a week or so, one of these is likely to be on our menu.  Very simple fare, but to me preferable to going out or ordering a pizza on nights I don't want to cook.  I like going out to eat to be a special treat, and on occasions when I want to take a little longer at the table.

If you have quick low-prep meals you'd like to share, do send me the recipe or write it up in the comments!

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mango-Blueberry Salsa on chips

Yes--the mango-blueberry salsa that I made for grilled tuna is great on chips!  Now I just need to have some guests over so I have an excuse to make it again. . .

Salsa recipe here.
Baked tortilla recipe here.  (Of course purchased chips would be fine also.)

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mango-Blueberry Salsa (with grilled tuna)

I was at an upscale grocery store in Peoria yesterday (Fresh Market--like Whole Foods but smaller), and bought some fresh tuna.  I also picked up a large mango on sale.  Came home and looked for a recipe to make today, and came up with the recipe below.  The real star of the show is the mango-blueberry salsa, which was lovely on the tuna, and I'm sure would be great on any number of other things--chicken, other fish, or even as a dip with chips.  I served this with a side dish of orzo, and it was good with that also.  I can't always find a nice piece of tuna, but the salsa ingredients are easy to come by!  

I'm not much of a food photographer, but here's a picture I thought to take before we sat down to eat:

Grilled Tuna with Mango-Blueberry Salsa
adapted from WeightWatchers Entertains (2002)
6 servings

1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
1 cup blueberries, chopped (I used frozen blueberries--easier to chop than fresh, and I had them on hand) 
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 T. chopped fresh cilantro
2 t. grated lime rind (1 t. for salsa, 1 for fish marinade)
4 T. fresh lime juice (1 T. for salsa, 3 T. for fish marinade)
1 t. salt (1/2 t. for salsa, 1/2 t. for fish)
1/2 t. sugar
1/2 of a small jalapeno pepper, seeded & finely chopped
6 (5 oz) tuna steaks, about 3/4" thick
1/2 t. coarsely ground pepper
scant 1/2 t. ground coriander

If using frozen blueberries, rinse with water to take off any ice and let drain, then chop.  Combine the mango, blueberries, onion, cilantro, 1 t. of lime rind, 1 T. of lime juice, 1/2 t. of salt, sugar, and jalapeno.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 3 days.

Mix together the remaining 1 t. lime rind, 3 T. lime juice, 1/2 t. salt, ground pepper, and coriander.  Sprinkle on the tuna.  Refrigerate, covered, for at least 20 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Spray the grill rack with nonstick spray.  Grill the tuna, 5" from the heat, until browned on the outside but still a little pink in the center, about 3-4 minutes on each side.  Serve with salsa.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Skillet lasagna

SKILLET LASAGNA (from Louise Gates)
4-6 servings
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Television Show 10th Anniversary Best Recipes 2001-2010  

If Louise and I aren't talking about quilting, the conversation is likely to be about food.  Turns out we both feel the same way about lasagna—love to eat it, but don't like putting it together.  Louise has the answer:  lasagna ingredients cooked all together in a skillet dish.  Amazingly, it has all the flavor of regular lasagna!  I actually like it better—not as heavy a dish.  This recipe will also go on my list for "good to bring to a potluck, or to someone's house who's having meals brought in."

1 28-oz can diced tomatoes
2 t. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1/2 t. salt
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 t. crushed red pepper
1 lb. ground beef or sausage (any kind, including chicken or turkey)
10 curly-edged regular lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (put aside 2 T. of this)
4-8 oz. shredded mozzarella cheese (I used about 6 oz)
salt and pepper to taste
8-15 oz. part-skim ricotta (I used about 12 oz)
3 T. minced fresh basil (if available)

1.  Pour the tomatoes with their juice into a 4-cup measuring cup.  Add enough water to the tomatoes to measure 4 cups.

2.  Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic, and 1/2 t. salt and cook until softened, about 6 minutes.

3.  Stir in the red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Add the ground meat and cook, breaking up the meat into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

4.  Scatter the noodle pieces over the meat, but do not stir.  Pour the diced tomatoes and the can of tomato sauce over the pasta.  Cover and bring to a simmer.  Reduce the heat and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally [or not—I forgot to], until the pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.

5.  Turn off the heat under the skillet (gas stove) or take off the burner (electric).  Stir in the mozzarella cheese and all but 2 T. of the parmesan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If serving to guests, transfer to a casserole dish with a cover. (Thanks for this tip to Louise's son Tony.)

6.  Dot heaping tablespoons of the ricotta cheese over the noodles.  Cover the skillet/casserole and let stand off the heat for five minutes.

7.  Sprinkle with the fresh basil and pass the extra parmesan around for a garnish.

  • I forgot to put in the 8 oz. can of tomato sauce—still was great!
  • I didn't have fresh basil, so I just left this out.  If I'd thought ahead, I would have put some dried basil in with the tomatoes, but it was also fine without.  I'll use fresh basil in the summer, when I have plants in the back yard.
  • The recipe called for 8 oz. of mozzarella and 15 oz. of ricotta, but I cut back to save some calories.  Still great. I could probably have cut back even more, hence the suggested range given above.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Baked Tortilla Chips

The other day I needed some tortilla chips for a dip, and didn't want to make a trip to the grocery store just for the one item.  I happened to have corn tortillas in the refrigerator, so I looked up recipes on the web and made up a batch.  With a couple of tweaks and another try tonight, here's what worked really well for me.  These are MUCH better than store-bought chips, and also lower in fat/calories.

corn tortillas  (I can get 8-9 tortillas on two cookie sheets)
spray olive oil
salt (or seasoned salt)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread the tortillas out on one or more baking sheets and spray lightly with olive oil.  Turn and spray the other side.  Then put the tortillas in a stack and cut into eighths.  Spread the pieces on one or more baking sheets, sprinkle lightly with salt (or seasoned salt) and put in oven.  (You could also skip the salt.)  Bake for 11-12 minutes, until crisp.  No need to flip the chips over while baking.  I did two baking sheets in the oven at once, and that worked fine.

That's it!

(Addendum 6/15/16: The Simply Recipes site gives a method for making chips in the microwave, which would be a good option for a hot day when you don't want to turn on the oven.  I haven't tried it, so can't recommend, but you can find the directions here; scroll down to the third method (after fried and baked).