Sunday, March 29, 2009

Peach Salsa

Since starting to post recipes, I've mostly shared my favorite main dishes. We often have interesting sides with our meals, and this is a favorite. It's super easy and fast, and goes very well with meats. Heck, it's good all by itself!

Peach salsa
prep time: 5 minutes
serves 4

2 (15 oz) cans peaches in juice, drained and chopped
2 green onions with tops, thinly slices
2 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped
2 T lime juice
1/4 tsp Asian Five Spice Powder
2 tsp garlic chile paste
1/8 tsp white pepper

In medium bowl, combine the peaches, onion, cilantro and lime juice. Mix in the spice powder, chile paste, and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

** Just a note: 2 full tsp of the garlic chile paste is enough to blow the roof off. While I like a nice fiery dish, this recipe had Marble Man on his knees and crying for his Momma. So, you might want to start with a little less and see how you like it - you can always add more.


In the summertime this is great with fresh peaches instead of canned.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Turkey-Stuffed Cabbage

Because of St Patrick’s Day last week, cabbage heads were 39 cents at the grocery store. I’m no dummy – that’s a lot of cabbage for not much lettuce! I love stuffed cabbage rolls, but don’t think to make them very often. We had them this week and oh, boy, they were goooooood.

Turkey-Stuffed Cabbage Rolls with Tangy Red Sauce

Serves 6
Preheat oven to 350 degrees

12 large cabbage leaves

1 pound lean ground turkey
¾ C cooked rice
½ C finely chopped onion
½ C finely chopped carrots
1 egg, beaten
1 T lemon juice
2 T Worcestershire sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
½ C milk


1 8-oz can tomato sauce
1 14 ½ oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
3 T sugar
2 T vinegar
½ C water
2 T cornstarch mixed with ¼ C cold water

Drop cabbage leaves into boiling water, cover and cook 3 minutes. Drain well. For filling, combine ground turkey, rice, onion, carrots, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and milk. Mix well and divide into 12 portions. Place one portion in each cabbage leaf and roll up around filling. Place in a baking dish. For sauce, combine tomato sauce, tomatoes, sugar, vinegar, and ½ C and pour over cabbage rolls in baking dish. Cover and bake for 40-45 minutes.

Remove rolls from pan and transfer the juices to a saucepan. Place over medium heat. Stir cornstarch and water mixture into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, and stir until thickened. Pour over rolls and serve.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Kale and White Bean Soup

Even though the grape hyacinth, daffodils, and camellias are in full-out flower here, the temperatures tanked this week into the low 40's and it's been raining for days. Spring is trying hard, but Winter's still got us in her nasty grip. This is a perfect weekend for my favorite lo-cal, flavorful and filling soup:

Kale and White Bean Soup
Serves: a LOT!

1 pound kale, washed, stems and hard center veins removed
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 T olive oil
4 C water
2 C chicken or vegetable stock
2 14.5 oz cans cannelini beans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
tobasco sauce (optional)

Cut the kale into 1 inch strips. In large saucepan, heat the olive oil over med-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery; cook until the onions are softened (about 5 min). Add 1 can of the beans and lightly mash them with a fork. Add the water and stock, and bring to a boil. Stir in the kale and remaining can of beans. Salt and pepper to taste, partially cover and simmer until the kale is tender, about 20 minutes. Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan. Adding a few drops of tobasco sauce gives the soup a nice zing on a cold day.

You can have fun with this recipe. For example, after we ravaged the Christmas ham, I added the bone to a batch of this soup I was cooking up.

I usually double the batch and freeze it in individual servings. The soup freezes exceptionally well.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Light Chicken Parmesan

How often have you ordered Chicken Parmesan in a restaurant only to find the chicken is rubbery and stringy, and the breading is soggy and drenched with sauce? Yuck. Here’s a version that guarantees the breading will be crispy and light, and the chicken will be moist and tender. And it will wind up being so light in calories that your return trip for seconds will be guilt-free!

There are two major changes from traditional preparation to this version:
1) The breaded chicken is baked in the oven instead of fried, and
2) this recipe calls for using panko crumbs instead of traditional bread crumbs. You can see the difference between the two in this photo:

The panko has much larger crumbs, making for a nice crunchy crust. Panko is widely available now in supermarkets, as well as Asian markets. If you can’t find it, you can use traditional bread crumbs, but the texture of the breading will have a more delicate texture.

Light Chicken Parmesan

serves 6

1½ C panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1 T olive oil
1 oz Parmesan cheese (about ½ C), plus extra for serving
½ C all purpose flour
1 ½ tsp garlic powder
salt and ground black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 T water
cooking spray
3 large chicken breasts, 8 oz ea, trimmed of fat & cut in half horizontally into cutlets
2 C pasta sauce, warmed
3 oz shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, about ¾ C
1 T minced fresh basil

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 475 degrees.

Combine the panko and oil in a 12” skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often until golden – about 10 minutes. Spread the breadcrumbs in a shallow baking dish and cool slightly. When cool, stir in the Parmesan cheese.

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic, 1 T salt and ½ tsp pepper. In a 3rd dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Put a wire rack in a shallow baking pan and spray the rack with cooking spray.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Lightly dredge the chicken in the flour, spank off the excess, then dip into the egg white, and finally coat with the panko crumbs. Lay the chicken on the wire rack. Spray the tops of the breaded chicken with cooking spray. Bake until the chicken feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven. Spoon 2 T of spaghetti sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 T of the mozzarella cheese. Return the pan to the oven and cook until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing extra sauce and Parmesan cheese separately.
You'll find you can apply this panko breading technique to other recipes as well. Last weekend I breaded tilapia with it, adding in some more savory spices to the dredging flour, and it was GREAT!

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Artichoke and Chick Pea Pasta

With frugality being the operative word these days, I've been trying to use up ingredients that I've bought and stored in the pantry "just in case". I open the door and pull out three random ingredients and make a meal with them. Sometimes it's a good experience, and other times, well... not so much. This time was a big hit. The three main ingredients were:

frozen artichokes
a can of chick peas, and
a box of whole wheat rotini pasta.

Artichoke and Chick Pea Pasta
Serves 4

4 C cooked whole wheat pasta (reserve ½ C pasta cooking liquid)
1 onion, chopped
1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
2-3 T olive oil
12 oz package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 C white wine
juice of 1 lemon
6-8 sun-dried tomatoes, soaked and sliced
1 can of chickpeas, drained
3 T capers, drained
¼ C pine nuts, toasted
pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp thyme
2 tsp dried basil
salt & pepper to taste
4 oz goat cheese (I used herbed cheese)
Parmesan cheese (optional)

While pasta is cooking, in a medium saucepan sauté the onions and mushrooms in 2 T of olive oil over medium heat until the onions are translucent and mushrooms are soft. Add the artichokes, garlic, wine, lemon juice and pepper flakes. Cook for another 5 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced. Scoop out ½ C of pasta water and add to the saucepan, along with the sun-dried tomatoes, chickpeas, capers, thyme, basil, salt, and pepper. Cook about 2 minutes, until tomatoes and chickpeas are warmed through. Add pasta and toss with sauce. After serving, add 1 oz goat cheese to each plate and sprinkle with pine nuts. Add Parmesan if desired.

**Note: I made this without the goat cheese at first and it was merely "OK". When I added the goat cheese the second night, we both wished there was enough for seconds! The cheese added a wonderfully complex layer of flavor.

copyright 2009 What's Cooking?