Monday, February 22, 2010

Meatless Monday

There's been a lot of talk about "Meatless Mondays" as a healthy way to make dietary changes. I have found that for me to feel full I need to have protein, not carbs. The following recipe contains high quality egg protein and milk protein in the Cheddar cheese.

Studies show that saturated fat raises blood cholesterol levels to a greater degree than ingested cholesterol and eggs are again a part of healthy diets. Use Cheddar cheese made with 2% milk to decrease fat if you like. When I use a small amount of cheese I find that full-fat tastes best, but I also like the 2% cheddar.

What do you serve for Meatless Mondays?

Spinach Frittata

Makes 2 servings

1 teaspoon butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup diced red pepper
1 1/2 cups frozen shredded hash browns, thawed
1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
4 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat the butter and olive oil in 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper and cook 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add the potatoes and cook 6 to 8 minutes or until the potatoes begin to brown. Add the spinach and garlic and cook until the spinach is wilted.

Beat the eggs, milk salt and pepper in a medium bowl until smooth. Pour over potatoes. Cook, 2 to 3 minutes, lifting edges and allowing uncooked egg to flow underneath.

Sprinkle with cheese and bake 15 to 20 minutes or until set. Cut into 4 wedges to serve.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Celebrate the Olympics in Canada

It's hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the Olympics. Especially for the Winter Games there are always a lot of Minnesotans involved.

Here's my recipe for a Canadian classic, Tourtiere. It's a two-crust pie filled with a spicy pork filling. Traditional for Christmas Eve, I'm planning to serve it with a salad as we watch and cheer "USA, USA". Keep it simple and purchase refrigerated pie crusts or follow my recipe for a tender flaky pastry.


Serve warm from the oven, or make ahead and serve it at room temperature or reheated. Use refrigerated pastry as a time-saver. Add a salad for a complete meal.


Pastry for a 9-inch double-crust pie
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped onion (1 medium)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 pounds ground pork
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground mace
1 cup chicken broth
Fresh ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Roll out half of pastry into an 11-inch circle. Loosely roll dough around rolling pin and lift it into pie pan. Unroll and press dough into pan edges and bottom, making sure that the pastry is not stretched. Chill while preparing filling.

Heat olive oil in 9-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until it softens, stirring occasionally. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds.
Crumble pork into the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until meat is well browned and all pink has disappeared. Drain off fat. Reduce heat to low. Stir flour into meat and sprinkle with seasonings. Add broth and stir until sauce thickens. Season with pepper and add parsley. Remove from heat and cool to lukewarm.
Heat oven to 400°F with oven rack in lower third.
Spoon lukewarm filling into the pastry. Roll remaining dough into 11-inch circle and place over filling. Pinch edges to seal. Flute the edges if desired. Cut several slits for steam to escape during baking.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store pie in refrigerator.

BAKER’S NOTE: You can reheat the pie in about 30 minutes in a 350°F oven.

Basic Pie Crust

Tender and flaky pie crust is easy to make if you follow directions carefully and use a food processor. I use a combination of butter (for flavor) and shortening (for flaky tenderness). After making the dough, it should be chilled before rolling out and handled as little as possible.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
6 tablespoons ice water

Place flour and salt in food processor bowl. Pulse briefly to mix. Add butter and shortening and pulse until crust resembles coarse crumbs. Pour ice water through processor tube while processor in running. Continue to process 15 to 30 seconds or until crust begins to form large clumps. If dough doesn’t clump, add a little more water, 1 teaspoon at a time.
Turn pastry out onto a clean surface and gather it together. Cut in half and shape each half into a flat disc, about 5 inches across. Wrap pastry discs in plastic wrap and chill at least 1 hour. (If you only need pastry for a one-crust pie, tightly wrap the remaining disk and freeze.)
Sprinkle flour lightly on your work surface. Remove 1 pastry from refrigerator, unwrap, and dust both sides lightly with flour. Place dough in center of work surface.
Place rolling pin in center of disk and roll out dough to the edge. Rotate dough about one-quarter turn each time you roll. Roll the dough circle to an 11-inch diameter, about 1/8 inch thick. Until you’ve made a few pies, your circle will be ragged. Continue by following the recipe above.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday Already?

If yesterday was Mardi Gras, then today must be Ash Wednesday. This year it came as a big surprise after a very busy family weekend. Although I may not be posting this recipe in time for Ash Wednesday, it is an easy dinner for two any time of the year.

Last weekend my family was home for a bridal shower and I served salmon for a quick dinner that was very popular. I roasted a salmon fillet with a brown sugar and mustard glaze and served it with a crisp cucumber salad. Whole wheat cous cous cooked in chicken broth was ready in 5 minutes.

Roasted Brown Sugar and Mustard Salmon

Makes 2 servings

Salmon is served often at our house because it is rich on healthy omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, it is quick and easy. I usually cook enough so that I can serve a second meal of either Salmon Burgers or Salmon Quiche.

12 ounces salmon fillet
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons country-style Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Lemon wedges

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly spray an 11x7 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place the salmon in the dish.

Combine the brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice and salt in a small bowl. Spread over the top of the salmon.

Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until the salmon is cooked through. The easiest way to determine this is to make a small cut near the center with the tip of a knife. The salmon should be opaque. (Salmon is often served slightly rare but this is a personal choice).

Divide the fillet in half and garnish with lemon wedges.

Serve with Cucumber Dill Salad.

Cucumber Dill Salad

Makes 4 servings

1 English cucumber, cut into 3/4 inch cubes
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 tablespoons water
4 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a small bowl and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the dill.

Place the cucumber is a container with a tight-fitting lid. Add the vinegar mixture and toss to mix. Cover tightly and refrigerate 1 hour or until serving.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Valentine's Dinner: He Wants, She Wants

I just read in my online newsletter the results of Bon Appetit's survey about food choices for Valentine's Dinner. It turns out that men and women both would choose the same thing. Decadent beef, such as a filet or rib-eye steak, bubbly or booze and a rich finish with chocolate appeared on lots of blogs recently.

My earlier posting featured Chicken Marsala as a budget-friendly entree. If you're staying home and looking for the ultimate entree, I'm posting my Filet Mignon for two. Chocolate Souffle appeared last year and can be found in Recipes for Two.

Filet Mignon with Port Wine Reduction

Filet mignon is usually saved for special occasions, and this recipe is from a Romantic Valentine’s Menu, but this sauce is fabulous on any steak. I especially like it on rib-eye steaks that have been grilled outdoors. Be sure to let the steaks rest after grilling so the juices can be absorbed back into the meat.

Makes 2 Servings

1 teaspoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup beef broth
2 tablespoons port wine
2 (6 ounce) filet mignons (about 1 inch thick)
1 teaspoon olive oil

Melt the butter in a small skillet or saucepan. Add garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent. Add the beef broth and cook until it is reduced by half. Stir in the port and simmer briefly.

Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat. Rub olive oil onto steaks and season with salt and cracked pepper. Grill about 4 minutes per side for rare or until desired doneness. I use an instant read thermometer and cook to 140 degrees F. for rare.

Loosely cover the steaks with aluminum foil and let stand about 5 minutes. Serve the steaks with the sauce.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Food Safety of Favorite Convenience Food

Consumer Reports. org has published an article on line about salad greens in plastic clamshells or bags. The packages state "prewashed" or "triple-washed" and imply that you can use them directly out of the bags.

Well I admit, that's exactly what I do. For me that's the whole point, open and serve. Consumer Reports recently ran some tests and did find bacteria present but not E. coli O157:H7, listeria or salmonella- the three most serious threats for food-borne illness.

Several years ago I heard a representative of the FDA speak and he said that these products are "safe" but when questioned he said he did wash these products before using.

Consumer Reports recommends that you purchases these packages as far from the use-by-date as possible and rinse well.

This is one more reason to lobby Congress on the food safety standard of the U.S.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Valentine's Dinner for Two

I appeared on KARE 11 Showcase MN this morning and prepared an easy dinner for two. This year I made Chicken Marsala since boneless chicken is much less expensive that beef tenderloin (my favorite). Marsala wine is a fortified wine produced in Sicily. A small bottle lasts a long time and costs less that $8.

Here's the menu:

Chicken Marsala (main dish)
Serve Chicken Marsala with egg noodles and steamed broccoli or asparagus. Top the broccoli or asparagus with Gremolata. (See below).

Makes 2 servings

¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each)
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons butter
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced shallot
¼ cup Marsala wine or chicken broth
¼ cup chicken broth

Place the flour and salt in a plastic food storage bag. Add the chicken and shake to coat well. Heat the oil and butter in a 9-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat.

Add the chicken and cook until one side is browned, about 3 minutes. Turn and add the mushrooms and shallots and continue cooking until the second side is browned.

Pour the Marsala into the pan and stir to remove the browned bits from the pan. Add the chicken broth and cover. Reduce heat to low. Cook about 5 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center.

Tip: If the sauce is too thin, blend 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour and 1 tablespoon butter until it forms a paste. Crumble a little at a time into the sauce and cook briefly until the sauce thickens. To use cornstarch to thicken the sauce, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch in 1 tablespoon Marsala or water and stir into sauce.

Gremolata: Gremolata is traditionally served with Osso Buco but turns everyday steamed broccoli or asparagus into a celebration. Combine 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley, 1 teaspoon grated lemon rind, 1 clove garlic and chop together. Season with salt and pepper.

Fabulous Fudgy Brownies (desserts)

“These brownies are really good,” my daughter commented as she went back for seconds. Unlike brownies from a box, they have a fudgy, deep chocolate flavor and moist, dense texture, and they can be prepared almost as quickly. Omit the glaze if you’re adding other toppings.


1/2 cup butter
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup butter

Place butter and chocolate in a medium bowl and set bowl over, not in, simmering water until chocolate melts; or use a double boiler. The last little lumps will melt as mixture sits. Cool slightly.
Heat oven to 350°F with oven rack in middle. Line bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, extending foil about 2 inches beyond pan on each long side. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine sugar, vanilla, and melted chocolate in a large bowl, and stir slowly to mix. Add eggs and mix with a wire whisk until well blended. Slowly stir in flour until it disappears. Whisk about 15 seconds or until smooth. Pour into prepared pan, pushing batter into the corners.
Bake 20 to 25 minutes until center seems set when touched lightly with a finger. Brownies will also start to pull away from pan edges. When set in center, the batter won’t jiggle. Cool in pan on wire cooling rack.
For the glaze, melt 1/4 cup butter and semisweet chocolate in a small bowl set over, not in, simmering water, stirring occasionally. Cool until slightly thickened.
Pour glaze over brownies and spread evenly. Let stand until glaze is set.
Remove brownies intact from pan by loosening ends with a metal spatula and lifting, using the aluminum foil. Cut into bars. Make sure foil is not stuck on bottom of any brownies.
For Valentine’s Day, cut two brownies with a heart shaped cookie cutter. Top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce with toasted pecans.