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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms: Barefoot Bloggers

This was the second December recipe for Barefoot Bloggers, and I thought it was very good!  We got a large package of extra large mushrooms, but ended up with about 14 instead of the 16 stated in the recipe.  So, ours are a bit over-stuffed, but still excellent.  One thing I noticed is that the mushrooms had a very good texture.  I think back to eating stuffed mushrooms as appetizers at parties or events, and always remember biting into the mushroom and having liquid gush out.  That did not happen with these mushrooms.  Maybe it was the soaking in olive oil and sherry that helped, but it was nice not to have to worry about getting mushroom juice squirted out at you, since, inevitably it would wind up all over my clothes and make me look like a slob!  :-)  We used a chicken/turkey italian sausage instead of pork based, and I think it was a great substitution.  We'd definitely make these again as appetizers, or as a side to a nice steak and salad.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Lighter Scalloped Potatoes

This is another selection from the Cookbook of the Month, The Best Light Recipe.  I mainly picked this one since I knew we had an abundance of potatoes sitting in our pantry, and some fresh thyme leftover from a previous dish.  When it comes to fresh herbs, I like to be able to use every last sprig, especially in the winter when we have to buy them at the store and they tend to be on the expensive side.  Zach was excited for a chance to use our mandolin, which made awesomely thin, uniform potato slices.  I know, I know, that's the point of a mandolin, but it's one of those kitchen gadgets that sits way in the back of the cupboard above the fridge and we forget we have.  So, it was nice to break it out and use it.  We also added ham to the dish.  We just cubed up a ham steak and threw it into the sauce when we added the potatoes.

1 Medium onion . minced
1 teaspoon Vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon Table salt
1 Medium garlic clove , minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon Minced fresh thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon Ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds Russet potatoes (about 5 medium), peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
2 cups 2% milk
2 Bay leaves
2 teaspoons Cornstarch
1 tablespoon Water
3 tablespoons Light cream cheese
2 ounces Grated Parmesan cheese (about 1 cup)

1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Combine the onion, oil, and salt in a Dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme, and pepper and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Add the potatoes, milk, and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until partially tender, and a fork can be slipped into a potato slice with some resistance, about 10 minutes. Discard the bay leaves. Whisk the cornstarch and water together, then add to the pot and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, stir in the cream cheese and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, being careful not to break up the potatoes.

4. Transfer the mixture to an 8-inch-square baking dish and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake until the potatoes are completely tender, a fork can be slipped into the center of the dish without resistance, and the top is golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Pork Stir-fry with Garlic Sauce

This was one of my selections from the Cookbook of the Month, The Best Light Recipe.  I looked through the book for the best recipe I could find that used pork chops, since we have a bunch in the freezer.  Every 5 or 6 months we buy a giant pork tenderloin from the grocery store and then slice it up into inch thick chops and freeze them.  So, I can pretty much bet there are always pork chops in the freezer.  This recipe sounded good to me, and fairly easy/quick for a weeknight.  It turned out to be very yummy.  It's another recipe to keep around.  I think it was better than other stir-fries we have made because this time we got the sesame oil and hoisin sauce.  Before, I wasn't too interested in buying ingredients I thought would go bad before I would use them again, but I guess now I'd rather get the unique ingredients at the best attempt at replicating the flavors of the dish.  

Stir-Fried Pork, Scallions, and Peppers in Garlic Sauce

¾ pound pork tenderloin, cut into thin strips
2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons dry sherry
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
5 teaspoons peanut or vegetable oil
1 cup scallion whites, sliced on the bias into 1-inch pieces
2 medium red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
1 ½ cups scallion greens, sliced on the bias into ½-inch pieces
1 recipe Garlic Sauce

1. Toss the pork with the soy sauce and sherry in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, ginger, and 2 teaspoons of the oil.
2. Heat 1 more teaspoon oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the pork and cook, stirring occasionally and breaking up the clumps, until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pork to a clean bowl.
3. Add 1 more teaspoon oil to the pan and return to high heat until shimmering. Add the scallion whites and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 1 minute. Add the remaining teaspoon oil and bell peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp-tender, 1 to 2 minutes.
4. Clear the center of the pan and add the garlic mixture. Cook, mashing the garlic mixture into the pan with the back of a spatula, until fragrant, about 45 seconds. Stir the garlic mixture into the vegetables. Add the pork and scallion greens and toss to combine. Whisk the sauce to recombine then add it to the pan and bring to a simmer. Off the heat, toss until the pork and vegetables are well coated with sauce and sizzling hot. Serve immediately.

Garlic Sauce:
½ cup low-sodium chicken broth
¼ cup dry sherry
3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1. Combine all the ingredients except the garlic and red pepper flakes in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Add the garlic and pepper flakes to the garlic mixture in step 1 of the stir-fry recipe. 

Chipotle Chicken Skewers with Cilantro Dipping Sauce

This was the recipe that Zach picked to make from the Cookbook of the Month, The Best Light Recipe.  As soon as I saw it's title included chipotle and cilantro, I knew he would choose it.  It was very, very good, definitely a keeper.  I didn't pay too much attention to the recipe until we went to make it that night, but it says that the chicken can be marinated in the sauce for up to one day, which is how we will do it in the future. It got lots of great flavor from only about half an hour, but setting it up the night before would make the meal even faster, which is always a good thing.  We didn't have any skewers, and while the chicken was marinating, Zach ran to Target to look for some, but no luck.  We just baked them on a rack set up on a baking sheet covered with foil and I think they turned out just fine.  You end up with a lot of leftover sauce though.  Next time I'd probably cut the sauce recipe in half.  We've been eating up the leftover sauce with toasted pita chips and it's quite yummy that way.  We served it like a rice bowl, putting the chicken on the rice, then topping with the sauce.  It's supposed to be an appetizer, but served this way it makes a great main dish.  We will certainly be making this again!


2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 medium breasts)
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro leaves, minced
1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced
2 teaspoons adobo sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
nonstick cooking spray
3/4 cup low-fat sour cream
1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup lime juice, from 2 to 3 limes
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves, minced
2 scallions, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper


  • FOR THE CHICKEN: Slice the chicken breasts across the grain into 1/2-inch-thick strips (you should have about 30 strips). In a large bowl, toss the chicken with the brown sugar, cilantro, chipotle, adobo sauce, salt, chili powder, garlic powder, and pepper. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the flavors meld, about 30 minutes. (The chicken, covered, can be refrigerated for up to 1 day before cooking.).
  • FOR THE DIPPING SAUCE: In a bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the flavors meld, about 30 minutes. (The dipping sauce can be covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Season with additional lime juice, salt, and pepper to taste before serving.).
  • Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the top position and heat the broiler. Line a broiler pan bottom with foil and top with a slotted broiler pan top; spray the broiler pan top with nonstick cooking spray. Weave each piece of chicken onto individual bamboo skewers; lay half of the skewers on the broiler pan top and cover the skewer ends with foil, making sure not to cover the chicken. Broil until the meat is lightly browned and cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes, flipping the skewers over halfway through. Transfer the skewers to a serving platter and serve immediately with half the dipping sauce. Repeat, broiling the remaining skewers and serving with the remaining dipping sauce.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Crossiant Bread Pudding: Barefoot Bloggers

This was the first of December's Barefoot Blogger recipes.  We made it in two separate dishes -- one for Zach to take to work for a potluck holiday lunch, and one for use to enjoy at home.  It was pretty yummy!  It would be nice for having guests for dinner, but I don't know that we'd make it again for just us.  I would probably add some flavoring in, almond extract or even amaretto.  We did use fat free half and half, so that saved us a bit of calories, but it needed so many eggs I'm not sure it mattered that much!