Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Orange cranberry sauce

1 Bag whole cranberries

1 orange – juiced and zested

1 cup water

1 cup sugar

Bring water & sugar to boil.  Add cranberries, orange juice (1/4 cup was yielded from orange) and approximately 1/2 teaspoon of orange zest.  Because I do not have a zester, I used a vegetable peeler gently – and then chopped it up finely. 

Bring mixture to a boil and then lower heat. Simmer mixture for 15 minutes or until juices reduce.    Remove from heat.  Mixture will thicken as it cools.  Serve :)


1st Boil   Juicing the orange

orange zest

Adding the juice & zest

2nd boil - beautiful colors!

Super Sweet Potatoes

I know I promised to post my menu recipes, but things have a way of smacking you in the head and that’s been the case this week. However, I hope to appease you with some stuff I’ve made today :)

SUPER Sweet Potatoes

6 large sweet potatoes – peeled and cut in half

that’s it!

I wrapped each potato in a piece of aluminum foil.  I placed them on a foil lined baking sheet and baked them in a 350 degree oven for roughly 90 minutes. Then I let them cool all by themselves for an hour or two.  Don’t mess with them, don’t take them out of the foil. Just let them set.

When you’re ready, take them out of their little aluminum and sugar cocoon and into a bowl.  At this point, you can mash them with a fork, they should be so nice & soft.  They have caramelized, and mine, at least, need nothing. No butter, no brown sugar, nothing. They’re simply perfect.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tilapia Croquettes, revisited

I hate it when I make something that I don’t realize is going to be AWESOME, so I don’t bother taking pictures for the blog. LOL  This turned out to be the case last night when I decided to make tilapia croquettes for dinner.  I didn’t have the time nor energy to come up the stairs to print out the recipe, but I was pretty sure I remembered it.  Mostly.  So I set out to eek out dinner despite having a really lousy day, and it turned in to a delicious dinner for everyone, which, in turn, helped make my day better.

1 lb tilapia filets

1/2 c. panko breadcrumbs

1/2 c. Italian flavored breadcrumbs

2 eggs, scrambled

1/2 stalk celery, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 Tbs. olive oil

1 Tbsp. lime juice

2 Tbs. butter

1/4 c. white wine

2 Tbsp. sweet relish

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes


  1. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in skillet and add 1 Tbsp. oil. 
  2. Sauté onion and celery until onion is translucent.
  3. Add fish filets and cook over medium-low heat.
  4. Once fish is cooked through, break it up into chunks and add white wine.
  5. Turn heat to low and allow wine to reduce.
  6. While the fish is cooking, beat the egg in a bowl. 
  7. Add relish and lime juice to egg.
  8. In separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper & red pepper flakes.
  9. Fold wet & dry ingredients together and add fish, turning gently. You don’t want to shred the fish.
  10. Heat remaining oil & butter in skillet.
  11. Press approx. 1/3 cup of breading and mixture into patties.  Mine made 8 or 9.
  12. Cook in small batches until brown. 


Saturday, November 22, 2008

My family is SO weird.

I posted our “Thanksgiving” menu on the kitchen bulletin board. 

Thanksgiving Menu:

  • Pot Roast
  • Baked Potato
  • Meatballs
  • Bread
  • Pie

I wanted to see if anyone would notice.  All day went by and nothing. No one mentioned anything.  This morning, I went down to get my coffee and found this note.  

To Mom:  (big smile face)

pie: what kind of pie?????

bread: do you mean biskits?

Nothing about the lack of turkey. Nothing about the meatballs. 

My family is so weird.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Yummy Autumn Salad

You know how sometimes, you just start throwing things together, and it turns out either really fabulous or really ... unfabulous?

This salad came out in the first category - FAB U LOUS.

I realize I may be a little late to the game of adding fruit into a salad, but am I ever glad I've finally wisened up! The fresh apples that we happened to pick up this weekend on sale at the WalMart Supercenter for $.35 a POUND came in handy, that's for sure!

Yummy Autumn Salad

  • 2 cups baby romaine leaves
  • 1 plum tomato, quartered
  • 2 slices deli turkey breast
  • 1/4 gala apple, cut into slivers
  • 3-4 slices pepperoni
  • bacon bits (real, not bacos)
  • fat free honey dijon dressing
I layered it all in, then just sprinkled about a tablespoon of dressing on top - tossed it gently and then SCARFED IT DOWN.

The apple woke this salad up! It was wonderful - you have GOT to try it. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

12 Days & Counting

Hard to believe it, really. Just 12 days from now, another Thanksgiving! Thanksgiving was always a BIG day in my family growing up. All of us would gather at someone's house, whether it was my aunt & uncle's turn or my mom & dad's turn to host, and as the family grew bigger, so did the turkey. It was a favorite time of year because (maybe it was my naivete') we all had a great time together, and the food was always perfect. Always.




The standard fare was: (to serve typically 15+)

  • A HUGE turkey (20+ lbs at least)
  • homemade mashed potatoes
  • pan gravy
  • mashed butternut squash (they boiled the squash)
  • mashed carrots (boiled those too)
  • my family's recipe for stuffing (to drool over)
  • various other sides, like corn, cranberries (both canned)
  • celery
  • desserts, typically a couple of different pies

After hubby & I moved to New Hampshire and had our daughter, it became impractical to be driving the 3-1/2 hrs down to RI for Thanksgiving with the family, only to rush back to NH for Jimmy to go to work on Friday.  So I began cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my small family.

The first couple of years, I struggled with cooking the turkey the way my mom did and my nana before her.  Last year, I finally – FINALLY – decided to do it like my mother always did – and like my grandmother always did.  It’s not the preferred method of Butterball, but it’s tried and true. Why fight history?


Last year, and this year, I’ll be going with this menu and I’ll be posting the recipes over the next few days.  If you are cooking Thanksgiving for your family and/or friends this year, won’t you leave your link so I can come visit you as well?

The menu will consist of:

  • a 12(ish) lb turkey
  • sausage stuffing from my nana’s recipe
  • cornbread & cranberry stuffing
  • oven roasted sweet potatoes
  • oven roasted squash
  • home-made rolls
  • pan gravy
  • home-made mashed potatoes
  • home-made pumpkin pie

I can’t wait!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

Chicken Cordon Bleu & Chicken Fregula

Last weekend, I happened to be watching food network when a (new to me) show came on.   Secrets of a Restaurant Chef with Ann Burrell was the show and I enjoyed watching her and made a note to look for a particular side-dish that she’d made called fregula.  Basically, they’re little balls of pasta.  Bigger than a pastene but smaller than ummm… a ravioli LOL  Otherwise known as Isreali couscous, I managed to find it at the health food store in the bulk bin and it was very cheap.  I only bought what was about 1 cup because I didn’t know if we’d like it.   Then it sat in the paper bag for the last week and a half while I thought about how I’d like to make it.  I wasn’t going to make it like her, but haven’t been feeling really inventive in the kitchen as of late. (Read why on my other blog :S)

So this weekend, I was watching food network again and found myself drooling over Tyler Florence’s version of chicken cordon bleu.  I made sure to buy some proscuitto this weekend, and provolone cheese and then all that got thrown in the fridge as well LOL

Finally, I found the enthusiasm to cook tonight, and oh what a deliciouso dinner!  Give yourself some time for this – but believe me, it’s worth the effort.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded out flat.
  • 2 slices of prosciutto ham
  • 2 slices provolone cheese cut in half
  • 2 eggs - scrambled
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup flour

I pounded out the chicken breasts with the flat side of my mallet while it was inside a storage bag.    Once they were all an even thickness, I took a slice of prosciutto and tore it down the center because it was quite thick and I didn’t want it to be overwhelming in the chicken.  I topped the ham with the 1/2 slice of provolone cheese.  I rolled the whole thing up slowly and and then wrapped the chicken in wax paper, keeping it tightly rolled.  Once they were all done, I put them in the freezer for approximately 40 minutes or so.

Once they were in the freezer, I began the preparation for the fregula.

Chicken Fregula

  • 1 cup fregula
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

In a 2 qt. saucepan, I melted the butter and added the olive oil (the olive oil helps  to keep the butter from burning).  To that, I added the onions and garlic and stirred it frequently to keep the garlic from burning.

Once the onions & garlic were softened, I added the fregula and mixed it in to be sure that it was all coated.  I added the 2 cups of chicken broth and brought it to a boil.  I then lowered the heat, covered the pan and simmered it while I began the prep for finishing the chicken. (probably about 20 minutes on low) – the fregula will absorb the broth, so keep an eye on it.

Back to the chicken, I scrambled the eggs into one bowl.  I placed the flour in another bowl.  In the third, I added the panko breadcrumbs, along with salt, pepper and just a sprinkling of  poultry seasoning.

I removed the packages of chicken from the freezer, where they’d stayed nice and cold, and therefore held together very well.  Working quickly, I dipped each chicken breast into the flour, coating it on all sides.  Then I dipped it into the egg and then finally coated it in the bread crumbs. 

In a skillet, I heated a Tbls. of canola oil and placed the breaded chickens into the skillet.  At this point, I don’t know WHY but I had the heat up too high and next thing I knew, I could smell burning breadcrumbs.  Gah!

So I took them out of the frying pan and placed them into an oven pan, put the oven on 425 and cooked them for roughly 30 minuts or so – I had the meat thermometer in them and took them out at 175°. They were moist & delicious! The fregula plumped up with the chicken broth and was just amazing.  (click on the photos for better detail)