Stuffed Peppers

By on October 27, 2012 | Add a Comment

Stuffed Peppers are a wonderful weeknight meal. With a little prep, they are easy to do and make a satisfying and beautiful feast. I love to use a combination of colored peppers, they look so pretty together. I’ve heard people say they don’t like stuffed peppers, I think mostly that’s because the peppers aren’t usually cooked well enough and are too crisp. Par cooking the peppers makes all the difference. You wind up with a sweet, correctly textured balanced dish. Here’s my recipe:


Ingredients:

Makes 4 large peppers

4 large colored peppers, (make sure they stand upright) tops cut off and reserved, seeds and ribs removed, be careful not to make a hole in the bottom of the pepper
1 pound of ground meat, beef or turkey
1 egg
1/2 cup of cooked rice (room temperature)
1/4 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup grated parmesean cheese
1 small onion finely grated
Salt and pepper

Sauce
2 15 oz cans of tomato sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp. citric acid

Directions:
Prepare the peppers and place them in a large pot with a steamer in the bottom and steam the peppers for about 10 minutes until they begin to soften. Be careful not to over cook them. When they are done, take them out of the steam and cool. Cook the rice and let cool. Start the sauce by combining the tomato sauce, brown sugar and citric acid in a sauce pan. Heat sauce until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Meanwhile, prepare the meat mixture by combining all the remaining ingredients. Gently mix until combined. Fill each pepper to the top, put the pepper covers on them and place in a baking dish, cover with the sauce and bake in a 400 degree oven for 45-60 minutes. Watch closely toward the end of the baking time that the sauce doens’t burn in the bottom of the pan. Serve with a lovely green salad.
Love,
Helaine

Spiced Butternut Squash Soup

By on October 25, 2012 | Add a Comment

 

One of my favorite meals as the weather gets colder is soup, salad a bread. Although it’s been unseasonably warm this fall here in New Hampshire, I’ve made the shift as to what I am craving. I came across a unique recipe for butternut squash soup in Bon Apetit magazine a number of years ago and have adapted it to my liking. It’s incredibly creamy, rich and perfectly spiced, yet, light and healthy at the same time. I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped banana
5 cups chicken broth
2 cups cooked butternut squash
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
½ tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. sage
½ tsp. allspice
Salt and pepper

Directions:

Melt the butter and olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the next 5 ingredients and sauté until vegetables are very tender (be careful not too cook them over too high heat, you don’t want them to brown and stick), about 30 minutes Add the banana and the spices when the vegetables are just about done.

Discard bay leaf and transfer mixture to a food processor (or use a immersion blender in the pot) and blend until pureed. Add broth and remaining ingredients.
Cook soup over medium heat for about 15 minutes until flavors are married. Cool slightly. Use the immersion blender again until the soup is smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper.


Love,
Helaine

Sunday Dinner – Ribs, Cornbread and Apple Pie

By on October 22, 2012 | 2 Comments

Sunday in the fall is football day. I come for a long line of NFL enthusiasts, my father, my uncle, my son. I learned pretty early on, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em – and Jeremy has followed my lead. So, what’s better than the sweet and savory aroma of baking ribs and apple pie on a rainy Sunday afternoon with the New England Patriots leading at half time (poor Allison). My recipe for really tender and delicious ribs always starts the day before, and here’s how I do it.

Ingredients:
A rack or two of baby back ribs (depending on how many you are feeding)
For the rub (for each rack):
2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 1/2 Tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over ribs, place ribs in a large plastic bag and let sit overnight, or for a number of hours in the refrigerator. Bring ribs to room temperature. Line a large roasting pan with 2 layers of tin foil. Place the marinated ribs in the pan and cover well with tin foil. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove foil. Baste ribs generously with your favorite barbeque sauce, I like Sweet Baby Ray’s, and continue to bake for another hour, adding more sauce and basting the ribs every 10 – 15 minutes.

The basic recipe I use for cornbread is as follows: I particularly like this one – the bread comes out moist and delicious. I’ve adapted it from Patrick and Gina Neely.

Ingredients:

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1/2 stick of melted butter
1/4 cup honey

Directions:

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet in another. Combine the two and mix until just combined – don’t over mix. Spread into a well greased 8 X 8 pan and bake 20-30 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool.

And finally, apple pie. This is how my grandmother taught me to make it.

Ingredients:

8-12 apples, I use a combination of Macintosh, Macoun, and Cortland
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 -1 tsp allspice (to your taste)
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp butter
1 pie crust, I prefer homemade in the Cuisinart – Food processor pie crust is SO easy – you won’t ever buy store bought again.

Directions:

Peel and core the apples and place in a bowl with the next 5 ingredients. Roll out the bottom of the crust and fill to brimming (higher then you think) with the apples. Dot the apples with chunks of butter. Cover with the top crust. Brush the crust with an egg wash (made with 1 egg yolk and a bit of water) and sprinkle with sugar. Poke holes in the crust with a fork so steam can escape. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 40-50 minutes more until the apples are bubbling and oozing and the crust is brown.

Retro Mac and Cheese – A Healthier Version of Classic Comfort Food

By on October 18, 2012 | 1 Comment

Who doesn’t love hot, bubbly, crusty, macaroni and cheese? It’s comfort food I often resist making it because frankly, it’s high in fat, calories, and everything white. To assuage my guilt from the consumption of white pasta and cheese, I add “healthy” ingredients to this dish. To me, Mac and Cheese with added tuna, feels like a throw back to the 60′s. We use to call it Tuna-Noodle Fish. Not sure where that came from but I’d be curious if anyone else grew up with that name? Adding tuna and broccoli is how I make it healthy.


Here’s how I put it together:

Ingredients:
1 pound box of elbow pasta
1 can of tuna
1 small head of broccoli cut into small pieces and lightly steamed
8 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
3 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons butter
salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg
Seasoned breadcrumbs

Directions:

Cook the pasta until just under cooked, drain and set aside. While the pasta is cooking put the steamed broccoli and drained tuna into a casserole dish. Add the pasta. To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. When the butter is melted, whisk in the flour and make a roux. Cook for a minute on low heat, this cooks the flour taste out.  Turn up the heat and add the milk whisking well to incorporate the roux into the milk. Heat until boiling and thick, add the shredded cheese and mix until well blended. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the cheese sauce to the casserole dish and mix all of the ingredients well. Coat the top with a layer of breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350 degree preheated oven about 30 minutes until brown and bubbly. Serve.
Love,
Helaine

Birthday Dinner – Costa Rican Tilapia, Field Greens with Strawberries, Strawberry Margaritas and Key Lime Pie

By on October 15, 2012 | Add a Comment

It’s been a while since our last post. I’ve been wanting to let you know what we’ve been cooking but it’s been busier than usual. My son Gabe and daughter-in-law Christina are here. They’ve been on an extended cross country trip and now have landed here, in NH, to stay with us for the next chapter as they decide where they are going to settle. We did some traveling together, local sight seeing, went to NYC (had a blast), and had Christina’s mother here from Atlanta to visit. In the middle of it all it was Christina’s birthday. She picked the menu, I cooked. She decided on Baked Costa Rican Tilapia with a field green and strawberry salad. Key lime pie for dessert, and of course we had to have Strawberry Margaritas courtesy of my friend Scot Tolman’s famous recipe. Here’s what we did:

The delightfully surprising combination of ingredients makes this dish so delicious and it’s loaded with fresh lime and cilantro. Garlicky and sweet all at the same time.

Ingredients:

For the marinade:
1/2 cup orange juice
2 limes, juiced
4 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup fresh, chopped cilantro
4 cloves finely minced garlic
2 tsp sugar
salt and pepper
6-8 Tilapia filets
Combine the marinade ingredients and pour over Tilapia. Cover and refrigerate, letting the marinade do it’s work (minimum 30 minutes)

1 cup of white rice that’s been cooked in 2 cups of chicken broth
2 cups salsa (jarred salsa of your liking)
2 cans of drained, rinsed black beans
2 cups diced, fresh pineapple
2 limes, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and into a large baking dish combine the cooked rice, salsa, beans and pineapple. Gently mix ingredients until well combined. Remove the Tilapia from the marinade (reserving the marinade) and arrange it on top of the rice, fitting them side by side in the pan (it’s ok if they overlap a bit). Pour the marinade over the fish letting it soak down into the rice. Place the sliced limes over the fish. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the fish is flaky and cooked through. Garnish with chopped cilantro before serving.

Key Lime Pie – I LOVE Key Lime Pie and have tried a number of recipes. This is my favorite. It’s light, not too sweet and nicely limey.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp butter, melted
2 (14 oz) cans of condensed milk
1 cup Key Lime lime juice
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
4 Tbsp confectioners sugar
1 Tbsp lime zest

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In the bowl of a food processor combine the graham crackers, sugar and melted butter until well mixed. Press firmly into a 9″ pie pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until brown. Remove from the oven and cool. Lower the oven to 325 degrees.

In a separate bowl, combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs. Whisk until creamy and well blended. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until set, remove from the oven and let come to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Once chilled, combine the sour cream and confectioners sugar. Spread over the pie and garnish with lime zest.


And finally, Scot Tolman’s Strawberry Margaritas. This makes a blender full – could be for two, could be for six – you decide…

Ingredients:

6 oz. Tequila
3 oz. Strawberry liquor
1/2 can of frozen limeade
2 cups thawed, frozen strawberries

Directions:

Combine the ingredients in a blender and whoosh together until well blended. You can add ice to the blender if you want them frozen, or serve on the rocks. Garnish with a fresh strawberry. Yum.
Happy Birthday Christina!
Love,
Helaine

Roasted Red Onions and Peppers with Field Greens

By on October 4, 2012 | Add a Comment

This salad is a-mazing. As I was looking through the new issue of Bon Appetit, this recipe just kind of jumped out at me. You may be thinking, wasn’t Helaine’s last post from Bon Appetit also? If so, you are correct! We both receive the magazine at each of our homes and it has been a favorite for years. This month’s issue, in particular, has got us both on a roll. There are just so many mouthwatering recipes in there! This roasted red onion and pepper salad is so simple and so delicious, you really must try it.

Roasted Red Onions and Peppers with Field Greens
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients

1-2 medium/large red onions cut into wedges
1-2 jarred roasted red peppers cut into thick strips
6 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp. Sherry vinegar
Field Greens
Blue Cheese for sprinkling

Directions 

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Combine onions, peppers, garlic, and olive oil in a baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast in the oven for about 40 minutes stirring occasionally. Vegetables should be tender and very caramelized. Remove from the oven and stir in the sherry vinegar. You can adjust the seasoning to your taste by adding more salt, pepper, or vinegar. Lay out a nice bed of field greens, spoon the vegetables over them, and drizzle some of the oil and vinegar from the pan. Finally sprinkle with blue cheese.

*To print this recipe click here

Enjoy!
Allison

Pan Seared Hake With Kale and Sausage

By on October 2, 2012 | 1 Comment


The new issue of bon appetit came the other day. I always look forward to pouring through the new issue to find ideas and inspiration. I came across this recipe from Cook & Brown Public House in Providence, and was excited to try it for a few reasons. First, I’m always looking for healthy, interesting ways to do fish – frankly, I’m not a fish lover, Jeremy is, and I tend to fall back on the same old recipes. And, second, I AM a kale lover and again, new and interesting ways with kale always get my attention. This recipe doesn’t disappoint, it’s healthy, easy and full of flavor. The kale and sausage is reminiscent of traditional southern greens with ham hock. And, as for Hake – I didn’t know what it was, but it’s like haddock, mild and flaky. It would be great in chowder – hmmmmm.

Here’s the recipe.
Love,
Helaine

Comfort Food – Mushroom Turkey Meatloaf with Cinnamon Maple Acorn Squash

By on September 29, 2012 | 1 Comment

One of my favorite comfort food dinners is meatloaf. Since Jeremy doesn’t eat red meat I’ve switched over to using ground turkey for my meatloaf instead of beef. Initially resistant, (turkey doesn’t quite have the flavor or moistness of ground beef) I’ve come to discover that being creative about what you add to the meat turned my resistance around and now we get the benefit of great flavor, and much less fat than traditional meatloaf. Meatloaf is one of those recipes that can be varied based on what you’re in the mood for and what you have on hand in your refrigerator.  I had a box of beautiful Baby Bella mushrooms on hand so I decided to make caramelized onion and mushroom the star of this dish. Here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

Yield – enough for 2 with leftovers
First, the basic ingredients I use in all meatloaf:
1 lb. of ground meat (I use turkey, but you can use any meat or combination you want)
1 egg
1/2 cup of ketchup (or barbeque sauce)
1/2 cup matzoh meal or breadcrumbs
Fresh chopped parsley
Salt and Pepper

The variable Ingredients:

6 oz of rough chopped mushrooms (you can use any kind, or a combination of mushrooms)
1 large onion, chopped

Other ingredients/flavors I’ve used alone or in combination to make meatloaf:
chopped green peppers, or green chili peppers
Chopped celery
Worcestershire Sauce
Parmesan Cheese

Directions:

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a pan and caramelize the onions and mushrooms. When they are done take them off the heat and bring to room temperature. In a large bowl combine the meat and the rest of the “basic” ingredients. Add the mushrooms and onions – don’t over mix as it makes the meatloaf tough. Form the meat mixture into a loaf pan. You can optionally top the meat it with ketchup, or barbeque sauce. Bake at 400 degrees about 40 -45 minutes.

Cinnamon Maple Acorn Squash

You can do this with any variety of winter squash. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash, half and scoop out the seeds of the squash. Oil the bottom of a cookie sheet and place the squash cut side down on the sheet. Bake until fork tender. Take the squash out of the oven, turn right side up. Put some butter, cinnamon and maple syrup into the squash cavity and put back into the oven for a few minutes to melt.

Love,
Helaine

Sunday Dinner – Roast Chicken with Ginger Butter Carrots and Apple Crisp

By on September 26, 2012 | Add a Comment

This past weekend I made my first trip of the season to a really beautiful local orchard called Alyson’s Orchard. Maybe it’s just the name, but I love this place. There is a quaint little farm stand, a small pond with a canoe and a paddle boat, and beautiful views. Wandering in and out their rows of twisted and gnarled apple trees, picking and eating as I go, is a favorite autumn pastime.

I ended up picking just a small bag of apples because I really didn’t have much intention of doing anything with them other than eating one for a snack here and there. Then, as I was relaxing at home later that day, my mom asked if I wanted to come over on Sunday. Of course, Sunday dinner! I could make some kind of apple dessert. I immediately started to wonder what I could try that was new and different, but I then asked myself “why?”. Why not just make something classic, simple, and, delicious. Apple crisp.

The apples I picked were called Fortune apples. I had never heard of these before and they were one of the only apples the orchard made available for pick your own. Let me just say, they are not made for baking. This isn’t to say the crisp came out bad, but it just didn’t bake the way a crisp usually does. The apples didn’t really release any juice which is what should normally happen making the crisp syrupy and bubbly. Oh well, not every baking endeavor comes out perfectly.

This recipe is more like a very rough guideline because I completely improvised.

Enjoy!
Allison

Ingredients

5 or 6 large apples cored and cut into thin slices
Lemon juice
about 1/2 cup sugar
a few healthy shakes of cinnamon
ground ginger
nutmeg
cardamom
a good sprinkle of flour

For the topping: (very rough estimates)

1 cup oats
1 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2-1 stick melted butter

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, sprinkle apple slices with lemon juice. Add sugar, spices, and flour. Mix well to coat all of the apple slices.   Pour into a 13x9x2 baking dish. For the topping, mix oats, flour, and brown sugar in a separate bowl. Melt the butter and add the vanilla extract to it. Pour the butter into the oat and flour mixture and mix until it becomes crumbly. Pour the topping over the apples and spread out evenly. Place in the oven and bake for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Ok, Helaine here, now that you’ve had Allison’s dessert first – it’s time to get to the main meal. Simple roasted chicken with oven roasted potatoes and Ginger Butter Carrots. When all is said and done, I love the simplicity of a roasted chicken. It makes the house smell great,  you can vary the flavor focus according to mood, there are usually good leftovers, and you can make a delicious stock or soup from the carcass. I use to think roasting a chicken was difficult, but once you get it down it’s quite easy and always satisfying. I’ll walk you through the steps.

Start by purchasing a roasting chicken, not a fryer. I like the minimally processed, natural feed variety my grocery store carries. Wash it well, inside and out and pat dry. I prepare chicken right in the roasting pan I am going to cook it in – saves on some clean up. Next I season it thoroughly with kosher salt, pepper, garlic and paprika. Depending on my mood and what I have around I will also add either a blend of herbs, sometimes I drizzle honey on, orange juice, etc.  For this chicken I used fresh herbs from my garden; rosemary, thyme, and sage and I also put some orange wedges in the cavity to give the bird a hint of citrus. For this part you need to get your hands dirty.  Rub the entire chicken with all the seasoning until it’s well coated.

Next you want to tie the chicken tight with some kitchen twine. I loop it around the breast, and then tie the legs together. Finally, tuck the wings back behind the body. This all makes for a more tender, juicy bird.  Put the chicken into a preheated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 350 and roast until done. Make sure to baste frequently. The internal temperature needs to be 165 degrees. For a 4-5 pound bird it’s about 1 and 1/2 hours.

One of the things that use to make me nervous about roasting a chicken was wondering when it was done and not wanting a dried out bird. I solved that by purchasing a digital, instant read thermometer. It really helps. When you take the chicken out of the oven, let it rest for 15-20 minutes to let the juices redistribute within the meat. Remove the kitchen twine, carve and serve.

I have an abundance of carrots in the garden that need to be used. I wanted to do something different and creative with them for this Sunday meal. I remember having this dish at a potluck dinner years ago so I created this recipe from memory. It’s almost like dessert, so rich and flavorful. You can adjust the ingredients based on how much you want to serve, I used about 4 large carrots.

Ingredients:

Carrots, washed and cut into medium sized rounds
1/4 cup honey
4 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
Salt and Pepper
Fresh parsley for garnish

Directions:
Place the washed and cut carrots in a pot to steam. Steam until just fork tender. Meanwhile in a medium frying pan, melt the butter. Add the honey, ginger, salt and pepper. When the carrots are done bathe them in the butter sauce. Just before serving garnish with the parsley. Did I say YUMMM?
Love,
Helaine

Brisket – Family Tradition With Somthing Unexpected

By on September 22, 2012 | Add a Comment

Allison’s right – fall is here and it’s also my favorite time of year – I share her enthusiasm to get into the kitchen.  I have recipes stacked in my head like airplanes on a runway waiting to take off. First up, my version of my grandmother’s brisket. I can remember being a child and how the house would smell when there was brisket slow cooking in the oven. Or, when I was older and my parents lived in an apartment in lower Manhattan, I would walk down the halls drooling from the aroma of brisket coming from under everyone’s doors. Brisket is a specific cut of meat – it’s from the breast of beef, it’s a well used muscle so it needs to be tenderized or marinated to be soft and delicious.  Jews traditionally braise brisket as a pot roast.  Years ago I discovered an outstanding pot roast recipe in the Silver Palate Cookbook that I’ve adapted and combined with the traditional brisket recipe my mother and grandmother followed. The unexpected ingredient in my Brisket recipe is whole clove – when I was telling my mother about this the other day she said, “Clooooove??” I know, it’s unusual, but trust me – it’s really good. Here’s how I do it:

Ingredients:

3-4 lb triangle cut brisket (brisket comes in either flat or triangle cut, triangle has a bit more fat in it, thus more flavor. Most stores carry flat cut because it’s more attractive and easier to slice, either will work fine)
1 package of onion soup mix (Lipton is the traditional choice)
1 can diced tomatoes
a handful of fresh rough chopped, fresh parsley
1 cup of good red wine
10 -12 whole cloves
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
Cut up chunks of potatoes and carrots (optional – traditionally brisket is just the meat)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat up a large dutch oven with 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil. Prepare the meat by scoring it on one side (the less fatty side). To score, simply run a sharp knife about 1/4 inch deep over the surface of the meat two or three times. This prevents the meat from curling up when it cooks.  Season with lots of kosher salt and ground black pepper – both sides. Put the meat into the hot pan and let each side sear until well browned. About 8 minutes per side. Meanwhile, boil 4 cups of water and dissolve the onion soup mix. Chop the parsley, pour the wine, open the can of tomatoes and count out the cloves. When the meat is browned add the previous ingredients and stir well. Cover the pot and put it into the oven to cook for about 3 hours. If you are adding carrots and potatoes, add them at the 2 hour point. After 3 hours take the pot out of the oven onto the stove top. Remove the meat to a cutting board and let it rest until it comes to room temperature. Slice the meat into thin slices, against the grain of the meat. Slicing against the grain makes the meat more tender. While the meat is resting make a roux with the butter and flour, this is to thicken the gravy. In a small pan, melt the butter, don’t let it brown, and whisk the flour in. Let the roux cook for a minute to cook the flour taste out. Bring the gravy to a boil and whisk in the roux until thick. Add the slices of meat back to the pot and let it warm through. Serve.
Love,
Helaine

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