May 2010


A simple, delicious, microwave side! If your oven is wrapped up or it’s just too hot to cook, this is a sure-fire dish that appeals even to the vegetable-wary.

Apricot-Glazed Carrots
serves 4 (generously!)

1 large bag (32 ounces) baby carrots
3 Tbsp butter or margarine
1 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/3 c. apricot preserves*
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp cornstarch

*We’ve also thought of trying orange marmalade. I wonder if you could even use apple jelly, but the bits of fruit in the preserves adds a little something.

Place 1/4 cup of tap water into a 2 quart microwave-safe baking dish. Add carrots, butter, and light brown sugar, stir, and cover with plastic wrap. Use a fork to pierce holes in the plastic wrap, then microwave on high for 10 minutes, stirring halfway through.

Carefully remove the dish from the microwave, discard the plastic wrap, and then stir in the apricot preserves, salt, and nutmeg. Microwave uncovered on high for another 2 minutes. Stir in cornstarch until completely dissolved, and microwave for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until carrots are tender and sauce is thickened.

Another Temp-tations recipe!

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Why did I not give you this recipe last summer?

Spicy Artichoke Dip
from Better Homes & Gardens Hometown Potluck Favorites
serves 14

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1/3 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp diced green chile peppers, drained
2 tsp drained and chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/8 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic, minced

In a large bowl, combine chopped artichoke hearts, mayo, Parmesan, green chile peppers, chopped jalapeno peppers, cumin, and garlic. Spoon in to an ungreased small casserole. Sprinkle with paprika.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand about 10 minutes before serving.

for 40 servings (!)

3 14-ounce cans artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and coarsely chopped
1 c. mayonnaise or salad dressing
1 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 4-ounce can diced green chile peppers, drained
2 Tbsp drained and chopped pickled jalapeno peppers
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 cloves of garlic, minced

Same preparation, but use a larger casserole — about 1 1/2 quarts — and bake for about 30 minutes.

It occurs to me that I made this for a birthday party last spring, but I don’t think I shared the recipe. My bad.

This recipe works best if you are feeding a crowd, and you have a dedicated sous chef; preferably one who doesn’t mind handling chicken parts.

Sweet and Sour Chicken Wings
from Better Homes and Gardens Hometown Potluck Favorites

for 24 servings
2 1/2 lb. chicken wings
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
1/4 tsp. garlic salt
3 Tbsp. cooking oil
2/3 c. sugar
1/2 c. white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1/4 c. unsweetened pineapple juice
1/4 c. ketchup
1 tsp. soy sauce
green onions (optional, for garnish)

First, cut off the tips of the chicken wings. Cut wings at joints to form 24 to 30 pieces. This is a really good job for your sous chef.

In a shallow dish, combine the flour, lemon-pepper seasoning, and garlic salt. Coat each chicken piece in the mixture.

Heat your cooking oil in a 12-inch skillet. Add the coated chicken pieces. You will probably end up doing this in batches, which is fine. Cook, uncovered, until brown, turning occasionally. Remove chicken from the skillet and arrange in a 3 to 4 quart rectangular baking dish.

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, vinegar, pineapple juice, ketchup, and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Pour over chicken in baking dish.

Bake, uncovered, in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender and no longer pink. Turn pieces over after 15 minutes and baste. If desired, garnish with the green onions.

This travels fairly ok, just make sure that you wrap or cover it securely. If you have an insulated hot carrier, all the better. And it helps if there is an oven at your destination in which you can reheat the chicken just prior to serving.

Here is the 12 servings recipe — though I wouldn’t go through with this recipe for only 12 servings. There are a lot of steps to the recipe and it’s just more worth it to make the bigger batch. Leftovers will keep well or can be sent home with guests, and they reheat nicely in the microwave.

for 12 servings:

1 1/4 lb. chicken wings
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. lemon-pepper seasoning
1/8 tsp. garlic salt
4 1/2 tsp cooking oil
1/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
2 Tbsp unsweetened pineapple juice
2 Tbsp ketchup
1/2 tsp soy sauce

Prepare using the same method as the 24-serving recipe, except bake in a 2 to 3 quart rectangular baking dish.

Jim made a comment last night while we were washing up dishes that was along the lines of, “You’ve been trying a lot of new recipes since getting these new dishes” (Temp-Tations ovenware housewarming gift from Meghan and Margie!!). Well, part of that is because part of the housewarming package was a book of recipes specifically suited to the ovenware, and for the most part these recipes have few ingredients, no wildly exotic ingredients, and are pretty easy to make. The other part of it is that I find this ovenware just bakes better than the old Pyrex glass casseroles I took away to college as hand-me-downs. Now, if I were going to make a double batch of sweet and sour chicken wings again, I’d use the glass dishes in a pinch, since they are wider and shallower than the Temp-Tations ovenware. But for a meal, I find that this ovenware just cooks more evenly and reliably.

PS Did I tell you the dishes are blue?? BLUE!!

Anyway.

One easy recipe that’s quickly becoming a top recipe in our house is the baked ravioli from the companion recipe book. Being someone who almost never follows directions, I of course have altered the recipe from Day 1. I’ll give you the original recipe, then tell you what my alterations are.

Baked Ravioli with Broccoli and Black Olives
serves 6

1 bag (25 ounces) frozen cheese ravioli*
10-12 ounces frozen broccoli florets
1 jar (24-28 ounces) marinara sauce
3 Tbsp finely diced yellow bell pepper, optional**
1 can (2 ounces) sliced black olives, drained***
1/3 c. grated Parmesan cheese
2 c. shredded Italian cheese blend
1 pinch Italian seasoning****

*Since I think cheese ravioli is a little boring — and just to get a little more vegetable in to the dish — I use frozen spinach & cheese ravioli. Both varieties can be found in your regular grocery store’s freezer case.
**I am not going to buy a whole pepper just to finely dice 3 Tbsp of it. I leave this out entirely. But if you had a pepper sitting around, then knock yourself out.
***Nope.
****Nope again.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place all the ingredients except the shredded cheese and the Italian seasoning (if you are using it) in to a 3 quart baking dish and toss to combine. Use a 3.5 quart or even a 4 quart dish if you like having more room to stir everything up. Top the whole thing with all of the Italian cheese blend. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Then remove the foil and bake for an additional 20 to 25 minutes, or until cheese is beginning to brown and the sauce is hot and bubbly. Remove from oven and let cool before serving.

This refrigerates and reheats like a dream, although you may be a little tired of baked ravioli by the end of the week if you are only cooking for 2 people + leftovers. This would be an excellent, inexpensive, filling main dish for a family supper. We had a bit of Caesar salad to go with it the first night and that might stretch the number of servings you can get out of it.

Some other variations we’ve thought of trying (and maybe will, someday):

-meat ravioli or meat sauce (meat is greatly loved in our house, but I’m also happy that this is a vegetarian dish that goes over well; but meat sauce is a definite possibility)
-baked ravioli with ground sausage, peppers, and onions (brown the sausage and soften the peppers and onions in a skillet on the stovetop before assembling; basically, make sure everything that needs cooking is cooked before going in the oven, and let the oven bake the ravioli and meld the flavors for you)
-instead of broccoli, using artichoke hearts, mushrooms, peppers, onions, corn, eggplant, zucchini…the vegetable substitutions are endless and could easily reflect what’s in season in your area or what’s on sale at the grocery store (or what’s been sitting forlornly in the back of your freezer for months)

This was an unexpected recipe. As a macaroni salad recipe, it came to me via Martha Stewart. And yet when I made it, I was reminded of nothing so much as that fabulous Graeco-Mediterranean condiment, tzatziki. So I’m not calling this Martha’s Macaroni Salad; I’m calling this Eleusinian Macaroni Tzatziki.

1 c. (4 oz.) elbow macaroni
1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1/4 c. light sour cream
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
1/4 c. fresh chopped dill
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

In boiling, lightly salted water, cook the elbow macaroni to package directions.

Meanwhile, mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, finely chopped cucumber, lemon juice, and dill in a separate, medium-sized bowl.

Drain the pasta and rinse in cold running water; drain excess water and add pasta to the cucumber-mayo mixture. Mix up thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste; toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate up to one day in advance.

Next time I think I might use half the recommended lemon juice, as I felt it made this salad just too “bright.” The sour cream does that enough. I wonder if you could substitute thick Greek yogurt for the sour cream entirely? It might be less sour and more creamy if you did so (and more authentic!). Next time I might also add some halved cherry tomatoes for a splash of color and another taste dimension; you could also add goat or feta or blue cheese, or sliced black olives to dress it up.

Grill up lamb kebabs seasoned only with sea salt, and enjoy this summer side dish to the tune of bazoukia and auloi.

Marjorie Standish is, like, the Julia Child of Maine. In her two cookbooks, Cooking Down East and Keep Cooking the Maine Way, she collates every early-20th century Maine recipe you could imagine, many involving the fruits de mer, many utilizing everyday ingredients like crackers and mayo and cocktail sausages to create inexpensive yet festive fare. Sometimes she calls for an ingredient I’d have to do research to figure out, but overall she is confident, no-nonsense, and thorough. Which is why I was rather pleased to find that she had a lemon meringue pie recipe that didn’t sound too complicated…

Marjorie Standish’s Lemon Meringue Pie (and Never Fail Meringue)

For the pie:

1 1/2 c. sugar
6 Tbsp cornstarch or 3/4 c. flour*
3 egg yolks (keep the whites for the meringue!)
grated rind of 1 lemon
6 Tbsp of lemon juice**
1/4 tsp. salt
2 1/4 c. boiling water
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter

*Cornstarch, sayeth Ms Standish, “makes a clearer pie.”
**It occurs to me now that I didn’t measure out the lemon juice; after grating the rind off, I just juiced the lemon to within an inch of its life. I poured the juice through a sieve to get out the pulp and the seeds.

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Mix, then add to slightly beaten egg yolks (in a larger bowl). Add to this the grated lemon rind and the juice, then add boiling water. Mix this well, then cook it on the stovetop in a saucepan, stirring constantly using low heat until it is thick and clear. I hope you have no where to be this afternoon. You’re going to be standing over this lemon curd for a long, long while. Once thickened, add the butter, then cool slightly, and turn in to a prepared, pre-baked pie shell. I cheated and used a store-bought frozen shell pre-baked per package directions for a meringue pie. Top this with Never Fail Meringue.

Never Fail Meringue
3 egg whites
3 Tbsp cold water
1 tsp baking powder
6 Tbsp granulated sugar (separated)
pinch of salt

Put the egg whites, water, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl, beat until stiff, add sugar gradually. If you do this by hand, you will be beating for a long while. Rumor has it you can use an electric stand mixer if you have one to hand. Pile the stiff meringue on to the pie, and bake at 425 degrees for a few minutes. Watch carefully. In fact, watch it like a hawk. Do not walk away from the oven. The meringue will burn. You will be sad.

Now, Marjorie Standish doesn’t say to refrigerate this pie, or chill it, or even cool it. I left it on a cookie sheet on the counter to cool while we ran an errand, and when I returned home an hour or so later the lemon filling had — and there is no other way to describe it — begun to melt. Once we whisked the pie in to the refrigerator, however, this strange phenomenon stopped, and did not reoccur. So after letting the pie cool for a half hour or so, I recommend refrigeration.

Makes 1 heavenly homemade lemon meringue pie. Serves as many or as few as you feel like.

Hello. The 1950s called. They said we can keep the casserole dishes. Yay!

Sausage-Rice Casserole
from Better Homes & Garden Hometown Potluck Favorites
serves 6*

1 lb. uncooked sweet (mild) or hot Italian sausage (or sausage links with the casings removed)
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 1/2 c. cooked white rice
1 4-oz. can green chiles, drained
1 4-oz. can mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 10 3/4-oz. can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 c. milk
3/4 c. (3 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook sausage and onion in a skillet on the stovetop until sausage is brown. Stir it to break up big pieces. Drain off excess fat.

In a very large bowl, stir together the rice, chiles, and mushrooms; add the soup, milk, and cheddar cheese; then add the sausage-onion mixture. Stir thoroughly. Tip in to a 2- or 2.5-quart rectangular baking dish. Bake uncovered in your preheated oven for 50 minutes or until heated through.

You can also make this in advance, up to 24 hours according to the recipe book, and store it covered in the fridge til you are ready to cook. Just bake for 65 to 70 minutes if baking straight from the fridge, or until heated through.

How easy is that??

It’s simple, it’s filling, it’s not too expensive if you think about it (just the sausage, really), and I feel that it will reheat spectacularly. It could even do a great impression of a hot, cheesy, creamy, filling dish at a brunch. I used sweet Italian sausage, so the only heat really came from the green chiles and that is not an overpowering or off-putting heat. It was actually quite pleasant with a green salad on the side.

*Why do we love the Hometown Potluck Favorites cookbook? Because it provides the recipe in small and large serving sizes so we can adjust it for family dinners or family reunions, as necessary.

For 12 servings:

2 lbs. sausage
1 c. chopped onion
5 cups cooked white rice
2 4-oz. cans of green chiles, drained
2 4-oz. cans mushroom stems and pieces, drained
2 10 3/4-oz. cans condensed cream of chicken soup
2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. (6 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese

Follow all the same preparatory steps, but divide the mixture evenly between 2 2- or 2.5-quart baking dishes. Bake both dishes 50 minutes at 350, or cover, refrigerate up to 24 hours, and bake at 350 for 65 to 70 minutes, just as you would for the 6-serving recipe.