Sunday, March 29, 2009

Week 10, Food Trends.....

I have been amused lately by the avalanche of recent articles proclaiming that cooking at home is the new "it thing". In its January issue, Food and Wine magazine projects home cooking as one of the biggest food trends for 2009. Gourmet magazine echoes this theme with a prediction on the return of the casserole and an increase in cooking classes for beginners.

Nancy Stohs, of the Oakland Tribune, reports that "the beleaguered economy, a continuing "green" ethic and that age-old hunger for new and different flavors all feed into the predictions plucked from various trend-watchers' crystal balls". Home cooking tops this years' list, with an emphasis on retooled comfort food classics, entertaining on a budget and "exotic" recipes made easy.

But I guess I am left scratching my head, when was it not "cool" to cook at home? Who new a desire to make our families yummy, home-cooked meals would put us all at the forefront of the new cooking-nista fad ;0

Home cooking is not the only trend to make the list. In her article for the Oakland Tribune, Nacy Stohs does point out that it is not just cooking at home which is having a renaissance. No new "trend" would truly be complete without a new shining of the armor on the old guard:

- Buckwheat is the new grain
- Sugar alternatives, such as agave syrup
- Non-chicken eggs
- Peruvian cuisine
- Artisan or micro-distilled liquors, culinary cocktails (concoctions created to complement specific foods) and organic wines.
- Bite sized desserts
- New cuts of meat (such as Denver steak and pork flat iron steak)
- More gluten-free foods
- Home canning

We will have to reconvene midnight December 31, 2009 to find out which trends actually did catch on. At least, for now, you can pretend that you are part of the culinary "in" crowd!

Now, before all of you home cookers go out for a celebratory latte, reveling in the fact that what we have been doing daily for our families has become a trend up there with skinny jeans and vests - not so fast. There is always a catch!

The Health section of the March 17th, 2009 The New York Times, reports that "studies show that the biggest influence on family eating habits is the person who buys and prepares the food". These people are know as "nutritional gatekeepers". The term was coined during World War II, when meat shipments to troops threatened to create a protein crisis at home. The goal was to educate families about alternatives to meat, but it wasn't clear at whom to direct the information. Researchers claim that these "nutritional gatekeepers" influence more the 70% of the foods that we eat. This isn't just in the home, it's in children's lunches, snacks eaten outside of the home, and even what family members order at restaurants. The difference between gatekeepers from WWII and the present is that not all gatekeepers are moms. They may be a mother, father, a grandparent, a housekeeper or a nanny.

"A gatekeeper who struggles with unhealthy eating choices will typically pass those problems on to family members. By the same token, gatekeepers who improve their habits can improve the health of the whole family"
(source: Tara Parker-Pope, March 17th, 2009: Who's Cooking? (For Hea
lth, It Matters): New York Times: Health)

According to Cornell researchers, there are five different types of gatekeepers:
- Giving cooks - enthusiastic cooking, specialize in comfort food.
- Methodical cooks - rely heavily on recipes, cooking is strongly influenced by the cookbooks they use.
- Competitive cooks - think less about health and more on making the most impressive dishes.
- Healthy cooks - often serve fish and use fresh ingredients, but taste is not the primary goal.
- Innovative cooks - like to experiment with different ingredients, methods and cuisines, a process that tends to lead to more healthful cooking.

To figure out what cooking personality you have, and where your biases are, you can take a quiz at nytimes.com/well.

"A lot of giving cooks believe they are healthy cooks, but they are by far the least healthy. On the other hand, if you like food, then the healthy cook is not necessarily the person you want to hang out with. They will trade off a lot for healthy. But innovative cooks have the best eye for freshness, yet there is still emphasis on taste. If you like great food and still want to eat reasonably healthy, the innovative cook is the person to hook up with."
(source: Tara Parker-Pope, March 17th, 2009:Who's Cooking? (For Health, It matters): New York Times: Health)

You may be cooking at home more these days. But is your cooking healthier?

************************************************************************************

Recipes for this week: Stuffed Peppers; Chicken Matzo Ball Soup; Linguine with Mint Pesto and Peas-served with Goat Cheese, Tomato Crostinis; Roast Chicken stuffed with Apricots and Matzo.

Items already in the pantry or fridge:
rice, salt and pepper, olive oil, butter, vegetable oil, dried basil, balsamic vinegar, dried oregano, white pepper, paprika, dried dill, Worcestershire sauce, 4 eggs, cinnamon, sugar

Shopping List:

6 green bell peppers
1 bunch of celery
2 onion

1 bunch of fresh mint
1 lemon
1 bunch fresh parsley
1 fennel bulb
1 vine ripened tomato
1 small red onion
4 oz dried apricots

2-3 cups of baby carrots
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1 bulb of garlic
1 1/2 cup of pig
noli or pine nuts
4 oz Parmesan reggiano cheese block
2 - 4 1/2-5 lb chicken
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese (optio
nal)
4 oz goat cheese
1 box of Matzo

1 box Matzo Ball Mix (recommend Manischewitz)
1 - 16oz whole wheat linguine
1 - 16 oz pkg frozen baby peas
1 small loaf of french bread

Stuffed Peppers with Ground Beef and Rice (serves 6)


6 green peppers
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (8 ounces)
tomato sauce
1 clove of garlic crushed
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil

2 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp ground black pepper, divided

1 tbsp sugar (optional)
2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 egg lightly beaten
1 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 pounds lean
ground beef, turkey or chicken
1 1/2 cups cooked long-grain rice
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

This recipe is a little more time-consuming then most of my recipes, but it's a satisfying meal on its own.
I like to add sugar and cinnamon to the beef mixture, it gives it a nice sweet/savory taste. However, omit this if you feel that you or your family might not like that.

Cut tops of peppers; remove the seeds and membranes. Chop the edible parts of the tops and set aside. Place the pepper in a large pot, cover with salted water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the peppers for 5 minute
s. Drain and set aside.

While the peppers are boiling, heat olive oil and butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute the green pepper (from the tops), onion, celery, garlic until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, oregano, basil, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper. Simmer for 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine egg with remaining salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, (sugar and cinnamon if desired), Worcester
shire sauce. Gently stir to blend; add the ground meat, COOKED rice, and 1 cup of the tomato mixture. Mix well. Stuff the peppers with meat mixture and place in a 3 qt baking dish. Pour remaining tomato mixture over the stuffed peppers. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes. If desired, top the peppers with the shredded cheese just before peppers are done, bake until the cheese is melted.

Chicken and Matzo Ball Soup (serves 6)



4 1/2- 5 lb whole chicken
1 - 32 ounce can low sodium chicken broth
half of onion, chopped
fennel bulb, chopped
2-3 cups of baby c
arrots, very coarsely chopped
2 tsp dried dill
salt and pepper
Matzo Ball Mix
2 eggs
2 tbsp vegeta
ble oil

I know that I have put a chicken soup recipe on my blog before, but this recipe is so incredible easy, delicious and healthy that it begs to be rep
eated! Give yourself time to boil the chicken ahead of time, this will help to keep the soup low fat. Don't hesitate to use fennel, it has a very sweet, mild flavor when cooked.

24 hours ah
ead of time, place the cleaned chicken into a large pot and cover with water. Boil the chicken until cooked, the meat will start to separate from the bone.

Remove the chicken, wrap and refrigerate. Cover the chicken broth and place in the refrigerator.

Approximately 2 hours before you are ready to eat, remove the chicken broth and skim off and discard the fat from the top. Add the 32 ounces of the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Remove the chicken meat from the bone, discard the skin, c
hop coarsely, and add to the chicken broth.

Add the onion, fennel (chop up the bulb only, discard the greens), carrots, dill, salt and pepper to taste.

Make the matzo balls according to the package directions. Hint: make them small - you should get about 12 balls, they will expand. Add them to the boiling soup, cover the pot tightly, reduce the heat and allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes to cook the matzo balls. Allow the soup to continue to simmer on a very low heat until all the vegetables are tender. Serve with a nice loaf of bread.

Mint Pesto with Peas on Whole Wheat Linguine, served with Goat Cheese, Tomato Crostinis (serves 4)

1 -16 oz pkg whole wheat linguine
1 -16 oz pkg frozen baby peas
1/2 cup pignoli nuts
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cups fresh mint leaves
3 medium cloves garlic
black pepper, optional

Crostini:
1 s mall loaf of french bread
3 tbsp of olive oil
kosher salt
pepper
garlic powder
4 oz goat cheese
1 vine ripened tomato, diced
3 tbsp finely chopped red onion
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar

In a food processor combine the nuts, cheese, olive oil, mint, garlic and pepper and process until smooth. Add more oil if the mixture is too thick. Should be slightly thick and smooth.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Place the frozen peas into a colander that you are planning to drain the pasta into. When the pasta is done pour the boiling water slowly over the peas as you drain the pasta. Put both the peas and pasta back into the pot and add the pesto sauce, toss until combined.

To make the crostini:
Slice the bread into 1/4" thick slices. Place onto a baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with salt pepper and garlic powder. Place in to a 375 degree oven and bake until golden brown.

Meanwhile, combine the chopped onion, the diced tomato, the remaining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Mix to combine.

When the toasts are done, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Spread with about 1/2 tbsp goat cheese each, and cover with a dollop of the tomato onion mixture. Serve alongside the pasta.

Roast
Chicken with Apricot-Matzo Stuffing (serves 6 )

4 1/2-5 lb chicken
1 garlic clo
ve crushed
olive o
il for brushing the bird
salt and pepper
15 oz chicken st
ock (hot)
4 oz dried apricots
4 oz matzo
1 large
onion, finely chopped
2 oz butter
grated rind of half large lemon
good squeeze lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
a pinch of white pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 large egg


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put a poultry cradle or grilling rack into a roasting pan that will just hold the bird comfortably.

Cover the apricots with water, cover and cook on high in the microwave for five minutes, or simmer in a small covered pan for 10 minutes. Leave to cool.

Crumble the matzo as finely as possible into a large bowl. Add the liquid from the apricots (6oz) and leave to soften.

Cook the onion in the butter until softened and golden.

Add the seasoning and the beaten egg to the matzo, then add the onion in the pan and cook gently until the matzo starts to brown and loses some of its moisture. Stir in the well-drained apricots and mix well. Stuff the cavity of the bird.

Make a shallow nick on each side of the bird where the leg joint meets the breast and insert half the peeled clove of garlic just under the skin.

Brush the bird all over with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the hot stock into the roasting pan, then lay the bird upside down on the cradle or rack. Roast it this way for 20 minutes to the pound - plus 20 minutes for a 5 lb bird, the total cooking time should be 2 hours.

Baste the bird every 1/2 hour with the stock, then 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time, turn it over and cook breast-side up. Lift it on to a carving dish or board, cover lightly with foil.

The juices in the bottom of the pan can be made into a gravy if desired. Drain the liquid through a sieve into a small pot, to remove any crispy bits. Add some dry white wine, bring to a boil. Add about 2 tbsp of Wondra gravy powder, whisk briskly as you add, until combined. Allow to simmer until it reaches the desired consistency.

Serve with salad, or steamed spinach.





Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Week 9, Kiss Me I'm Irish.......





Happy St. Patrick's Day!!



Growing up, St. Patrick's Day was always celebrated in our house with a dinner of corned beef and cabbage and my mom's Irish soda bread - and of course, wearing the traditional color green. What began as, a religious holiday in Ireland; around the world it is has become a day of feasting and celebrating. For one day, no matter your ancestry, everyone is Irish!

If you have never made corned beef and cabbage before, you will be happy when you realize how incredibly easy it is to make - and how delicious it is. Every year when March 17th rolls around, and we sit down to this traditional dinner, I wonder why I don't make it more throughout the year. Of course, this will be one of the featured recipes this week, and it couldn't be easier because you'll make it in your crock-pot!! Check out the sidebar this week for my recipe for Irish soda bread, a little different then my mom's recipe - that one's just for me! (Irish soda bread gets it's name because it uses baking soda as the leavening agent, rather then yeast.)

In case you were wondering about the origin of St. Patrick's Day, and other tid-bits.....


The History of the Holiday



St. Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland. St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for over a thousand years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast — on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

Corned Beef

corned beef and cabbage

Each year, thousands of Irish Americans gather with their loved ones on St. Patrick's Day to share a "traditional" meal of corned beef and cabbage.

Though cabbage has long been an Irish food, corned beef only began to be associated with St. Patrick's Day at the turn of the century.

Irish immigrants living on New York City's Lower East Side substituted corned beef for their traditional dish of Irish bacon to save money. They learned about the cheaper alternative from their Jewish neighbors.

  • About 41.5 billion pounds and 2.6 billion pounds of U.S. beef and cabbage, respectively, were sold in 2007. The corned beef celebrants eat on St. Patrick's Day may very well have originated in Texas, which produced 6.8 billion pounds worth of beef, while the cabbage most likely came from California, which produced 581 million pounds worth, or New York (580 million pounds).

The Leprechaun


The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is "lobaircin," meaning "small-bodied fellow."

Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.


Leprechauns had nothing to do with St. Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. In 1959, Walt Disney released a film called Darby O'Gill & the Little People, which introduced America to a very different sort of leprechaun than the cantankerous little man of Irish folklore. This cheerful, friendly leprechaun is a purely American invention, but has quickly evolved into an easily recognizable symbol of both St. Patrick's Day and Ireland in general.


(source: http://www.history.com/minisites/stpatricksday/)

This week's recipes: Corned Beef and Cabbage, Tex-Mex Bean Soup, Asian-Style Noodle Salad, Flounder Stuffed with Crab Meat.

Items already in your pantry or fridge:

vegetable oil, soy sauce, salt, black pepper, soy sauce, chili powder, paprika, flour, cornmeal, baking powder, milk, 2 eggs, butter, bread crumbs, vinegar, sugar, beef bouillon, chicken bouillon, bread crumbs

Shopping List:**

1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

3 lbs corned beef brisket

6 ounces flaked crab meat

6 flounder filets

1 head of cabbage

2 large onion

1 bunch flat leaf parsley

1 small bunch celery

1 small bag of chopped walnuts (I like the already candied walnuts for the salad recipe)

bulb of garlic

2 baby bok choy

2 heads of broccoli

4 oz udon noodles or whole wheat spaghetti

sesame oil

rice vinegar

nam pla (fish sauce)

1 bulb of garlic

1 small ginger root

1 lemon

1- 15 1/2 oz can kidney beans

1- 15 1/2 oz can black beans

1- 14 1/2 oz can Mexican style stewed tomatoes

10 oz pkg frozen corn

1- 4oz can of chopped green chiles

1 bunch of carrots

1 bunch of chives

2 cups baby carrots

boiling potatoes

**Most recipes are for 4-6 servings. If you are making more, or less, you will need to adjust the shopping list accordingly**

Corned Beef and Cabbage (serves 4)

The following recipe is a pretty standard recipe to make Corned Beef and Cabbage in a crock pot. If you are buying an already seasoned cut of meat, then add more or less spices as you like. I like to add an additional tbsp of black pepper corns (although they are kind of pain to remove after cooking), a couple of bay leaves, and 1-2 beef bouillon cubes. If you have some cheesecloth available you can place these seasonings into a small circle of the cloth and secure with twine - that way it is easier to "fish" the seasonings out when they are no longer needed.

I would recommend buying a "flat cut" of corned beef rather then a "point cut". The point cut tends to be a fattier cut of meat. Retailers tend to package the corned beef with the fat side away from the clear plastic so that you cannot tell how much fat there is. One way to tell is to squeeze it. If it feels "squishy" then it has a lot of fat, if it feels firm then it probably is leaner. Another way to judge the fat is to find a point cut that weighs the same amount as a flat cut. Is the point cut considerably larger than the flat cut of the same weight? Don't be fooled into thinking you are getting more beef. You aren't. You are getting more fat. When you cook a high fat piece of corned beef, the entire piece of meat will shrink and you will be left with a much smaller portion of beef than you started with. That being said, I think a little bit of fat in your corned beef will enhance the flavor of the dish, but that is my personal opinion.

3 lb corned beef brisket

1 large onion quartered

1 head of cabbage, cut into small wedges

2 cups of baby carrots

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tbsp vinegar

2 tbsp sugar

1 1/2 cups of water

boiling potatoes, quartered

Combine the ingredients into the slow cooker, with the carrots and cabbage on top.

Cook on low for 10-12 hours, or on high for 6-7 hours.

When the meat is almost done, place the potatoes in salted water and bring to a boil. Cook until tender. Drain, add 2 tbsp of butter. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the corned beef, cabbage and carrots.

Asian-Style Noodle Salad (serves 4)
(If you prefer to go meatless, then substitute tofu for the chicken - it is also a good recipe without either)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 garlic cloves minced
1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced into bite-sized pieces.
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (I like to use the already candied walnuts)
2 baby bok choy, trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
salt
2 cup broccoli florets
4 oz udon noodles or 4 oz wheat spaghetti
2 tbsp minced chives
Dressing:
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp nam pla (fish sauce)
1/4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice


In a small bowl combine all ingredients for the dressing, mix well and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet. Add garlic and saute over medium heat for 1 minute. Add the chicken and saute until cooked through, about 3 minutes a side. Add walnuts and saute 1 minute. Add the bok choy and saute 1 minute. Spoon the mixture into a salad bowl.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the broccoli and blanch for 1 minute. Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the salad bowl. Add noodles to the boiling water and cook until the noodles are tender. Drain well and cool for 10 minutes.

Add the noodles and chives to the salad bowl, add the dressing and combine well.


Tex-Mex Bean Soup with Cornmeal Dumplings (4-6 servings)
**prepared in a slow cooker**

15 1/2 oz can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
15 1/2 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
14 1/2 oz can of Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
10 oz package frozen corn thawed
4-oz can chopped green chiles
1 cup of carrots peeled and sliced
1 cup of onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups of water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1-2 tsp chili powder


Dumplings:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 egg white, beaten
1 tbsp of milk
1 tbsp of oil

Mix all the ingredients EXCEPT the ingredients for the dumplings into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on low setting for 10 to 12 hours, or on high for 4 to 5 hours.

Meanwhile, mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and pepper; set aside. Mix the egg white, milk and oil; stir into flour mixture. Stir with a fork until just combined.

When the soup has finished cooking, turn the cooker to the high setting. Drop the dumpling batter into the soup by rounded teaspoonfuls. Cover and cook for 30 minutes without lifting the lid.

Flounder Stuffed with Crab Meat (6 servings)

1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped onion
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped celery
1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
3 tbsp butter
6 ounces crab meat, flaked
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1 egg beated
salt and pepper to taste
6 flounder filets
2 tbsp melted butter
paprika to taste

Saute the onion, celery and parsley in 1 tbsp butter in a skillet until tender. Add the crab meat, bread crumbs, egg, salt and pepper; mix well.

Spoon the stuffing onto the fish filets. Roll to enclose filling and secure the ends. Arrange fish filet rolls in a buttered baking dish. Brush with 1 tbsp of melted butter; sprinkle with paprika.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes or until fish flakes easily, brushing with the remaining 1 tbsp melted butter.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Week 8, Vacation...........

This past week, my family has been on vacation in Florida. We visited the family matriarch- Great Grandma Grace! While here I found some interesting recipes in her local paper, "The Palm Beach Post"; some great recipes from the latest "Cooking Light" magazine as well as some from my all-time favorite celebrity chef, the incomparable Paula Deen! I hope that you enjoy them, and get some relaxing time for yourself as well!

Most good cooks know that a few helpful tools and a desire to cook are all you really need to make a great meal. While a gourmet kitchen with all the top-of-the-line gadgets and gizmos will certainly make you look good while you are cooking, it won’t automatically make you a good cook (just a happy one). Realistically, most of us do not have the space to store all the specialized tools anyhow! When I got married, I immediately registered for the best cookware (Calphalon, I still swear by it). Shamelessly, when I entered my mother’s kitchen, I pooh-poohed her stainless steel Faberware pots and pans. Incidentally, she received them as a wedding present and still uses them 40 years later to create wonderful meals. I was a little bit younger, and lot more na├»ve. However, the more time I have spent cooking - and now that I have less time to do so - I have learned that frivolous items, like an electric steamer, just take up much-needed space in my kitchen.

According to author Mark Bittman (“A No-Frills Kitchen Still Cooks”, The New York Times, May 9, 2007):



“Like cookbooks, kitchen equipment is a talisman; people believe that buying the right kind will make them good cooks. Yet some of the best cooks I’ve known worked with a battered batterie de cuisine: dented pots and pans scarred beyond recognition, an old steak knife turned into an all-purpose tool, a pot lid held just so to strain pasta when the colander was missing, a food processor with a busted switch. They didn’t complain and they didn’t apologize; they just cooked”.


In the article Mr. Bittman describes how you can outfit your kitchen with the essential tools you will need to cook fabulous meals for only $200.00. He not only gives a list of these essential items, but also gives the reader a list of the fancy, expensive items to stay away from. As the article points out, not only can you equip a kitchen for little money, but also (unlike when we buy our jeans) we don’t need to be so label conscious. “It needs only to be functional, not prestigious, lavish or expensive”.

Rachel Ray’s web site, yum-o, also gives a list of essential tools for the kitchen. You’ll be surprised at how few items you really need. The website also gives a handy list of the items that should always be in your pantry or fridge, so that you aren’t constantly running out to the store every time you want to make something delicious!



Enjoy this weeks recipes!!



Irish Lamb Stew**, Braised Short Ribs with Honey, Chipotle and Black Beans, Stir-Fried Shrimp and Scallops with Cashews, Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach and Pine Nuts.
**cooked in a slow-cooker

Items already in your pantry or fridge:
butter, salt, ground black pepper, dried oregano, Parmesan cheese, vegetable oil, olive oil, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, Dijon mustard, ground cumin, honey, red wine, Worcestershire sauce

Shopping List:**
1/2 pound fresh scallops
1/2 pound large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb
4 pounds beef short ribs, cut into individual rib portions
1- 3/4 pounds white potatoes
3 large leeks
3 large carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 (12 ounce) package of fresh green beans
3 chipotle chilles
1 cup of cashews
1 bulb of garlic
1 bunch of parsley
1 bunch of fresh thyme
1 large onion
1 large red bell pepper
1 (14 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
2 (14 ounce) cans of chicken broth
1 (14 ounce) can of beef stock
2 cans of black beans
sesame oil
brown rice
1 (16 oz) package vacuum-packaged gnocchi
pine nuts
1 (10 ounce) package of fresh spinach


**Most recipes are for 4-6 servings. If you are making more, or less, you will need to adjust the shopping list accordingly**

Irish Lamb Stew ( Source: The Palm Beach Post: Jim Romanoff for the Associated Press. March 4, 2009).

Serves 8
2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 3/4 pounds white potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large leeks, whites only, halved, washed and thinly sliced
3 large carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
14- ounce can chicken broth
2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

In a 6 qt slow cooker, combine the lamb, potatoes, leeks, carrots, celery, broth, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir well. Cover the slow cooker, then cook on low until the lamb is fork-tender, about 7 to 8 hours. Stir in the parsley just before serving.

Braised Short Ribs with Honey, Chipotle and Black Beans (Source: The Palm Beach Post: "Divas of Dish", Pam Brandon and Anne-Marie Hodges. March 4, 2009).

Serves 6
4 pounds short ribs, cut into individual rib portions
salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp of olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1/3 cup of dry red wine
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 cups of beef stock
3 chipotle chilles, chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp honey
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed

Season the ribs with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, big enough to hold all
ingredients, heat the olive oil over high heat. Sear the ribs in batches on all
sides until nicely charred and caramelized. Remove from pan and reserve. (If the
ribs are particularly fatty, pour off some of the fat.)


Reduce heat to medium and saute the onions and red pepper, stirring often until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then pour in the wine, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Allow the wine to reduce for about 2 minutes.

Add tomatoes, mustard, cumin, oregano, beef stock, chipotles, Worcestershire and honey. Return the ribs to the pan and bring to a simmer. cover and cook for 3 hours, stirring occasionally, until ribs are fall-off-the-bone tender.

Remove the ribs. If the sauce is too thin, turn up the heat to reduce (uncovered) until thickened. Stir in the black beans and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve ribs atop beans and sauce with crusty bread.

Stir-Fried Shrimp and Scallops with Cashews (Source: Paula Deen's Quick and Easy Meals-2009).


serves 6
2 tbsp of vegetable oil, divided
1/2 pound fresh scallops
1/2 pound
large fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 (12 ounce) package fresh green beans, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped cashews
1 tbsp mined garlic
1/2 cup chicken broth
3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp sesame oil
Hot cooked brown rice
Garnish: toasted and chopped cashews

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add scallops, and cook for 3 minutes. Turn scallops, and add shrimp to pan; cook for 2
minutes. Remove scallops and shrimp from pan; set aside, and keep warm.


In the same skillet, heat remaining 1 tbsp vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add green beans, cashews, and garlic; cook for 1 minute.

In a medium bowl, combine broth, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar, and sesame oil. Add broth mixture to green bean mixture, and cook for 1 minute. Return shrimp and scallops to pan, stirring to combine. Serve immediately over brown rice. Garnish with cashews, if desired.

Brown Butter Gnocchi with Spinach and Pine Nuts (Source: Cooking
Light, January/February 2009).


4 servings
1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (10 ounce) package fresh spinach, torn
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup (1 ounce) Parmesan cheese

Cook gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

Heat butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add pine nuts to pan; cook 3 minutes or until butter and nuts are lightly browned, stirring constantly. Add garlic to pan; cook 1 minute. Add gnocchi and spinach to pan; cook one minute or until spinach wilts, stirring constantly. Stir in salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.