Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Hors D'Ouevres

It seems that hors d'Ouevres are compulsory during the holidays, so I present you with a few recipes. These look delectable; I think I'll have an hors d'ouevres party. Enjoy!

Halve 24 party-size slices of pumpernickel; top each evenly with reduced-fat sour cream and a mixture of 4 ounces chopped smoked salmon, 2 tablespoons chopped chives, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion. Garnish each with a pickled ginger slice.

Sauté 1 minced garlic clove in 2 teaspoons oil. Add a 10-ounce package frozen puréed butternut squash; cook until defrosted. Stir in 1/4 cup grated Parmesan, 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage, 1 teaspoon cider vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Remove 30 leaves from Brussels sprouts; fill each evenly with mixture. Garnish each with toasted sliced almonds and additional grated Parmesan.

Fill each of 30 mini phyllo cups with 1/2 teaspoon each Brie cheese and pepper jelly. Bake at 400° for 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Garnish each with a fresh parsley leaf.

Fill each of 30 peppadew peppers with 1 teaspoon softened herbed goat cheese; top with toasted pine nuts

BLTeasersCalories 24, Fat 2gTop 30 small butter lettuce leaves with halved grape tomatoes, cooked pancetta, pearl mozzarella, a drizzle of pesto, and fresh basil leaves

Spicy SHRIMP Skewers
Whisk together 3/4 cup orange marmalade, 4 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro, and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Place 1/4 of mixture in a bowl (reserve the rest for dipping), and marinate 30 large shrimp, peeled and deveined, 10 minutes. Grill 1 1/2 minutes per side; thread 2 shrimp per skewer. Serve with reserved sauce.

Spread fig jam on 6 slices crustless white bread. Spread Dijon mustard on another 6 slices; top with slices of Manchego cheese, pear, and prosciutto. Assemble sandwiches; grill 1–2 minutes per side. Cut into quarters.

Makes 30 servings

Process 1/2 cup 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1/4 cup each chopped marinated artichoke hearts, chopped roasted bell pepper, and chopped fresh basil in a food processor until smooth. Stuff each of 30 mushroom caps with 2 teaspoons filling; sprinkle with seasoned breadcrumbs. Brush lightly with oil; bake at 425° for 18 minutes. Serve on top of a basil leaf.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Stuffed French Toast

Although simple, this recipe looks scrumptious! I can't wait to try it.

8 slices bread
cream cheese
5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
plus whatever else you want to put in the egg mixture. I put some nutmeg and vanilla.

Spread 1 slice of bread with cream cheese and another with jam. Put together like a sandwich. Dip in egg mixture and cook like regular French toast.

Recipe from beckysreview.blogspot.com

Chicken Tetrazzini

I haven't tried this one, but it seems to have potential.

8 oz spaghetti or linguine
2 cups fresh mushrooms
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 Tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 1/4 cups chicken broth
1 1/4 cups milk
2 cups chopped cooked chicken or turkey
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.In a large saucepan, cook mushrooms and green onions in hot butter until tender. Stir in flour, pepper, and nutmeg. Add broth and milk all at once. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in chicken and half in Parmesan cheese. Add cooked spaghetti, stir gently to coat.Transfer pasta mixture to a baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake in 350 degree oven, uncovered for 15 minutes.

Recipe from beckysreview.blogspot.com

Lemon Chicken Tortellini

I stumbled upon a blog full of interesting looking recipes; I haven't tried this one yet, but I thought I would post it here for your culinary enjoyment.

1 pkg (19 oz) frozen cheese tortellini
1 lb chicken, cut in 1 inch pieces
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 small sweet red pepper, julienned
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups chicken broth, divided
1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tsp lemon juice
1 pkg (6 oz) fresh baby spinach
6 Tbsp Parmesan cheese

Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute chicken in butter until no longer pink. Remove and keep warm.
In same pan, cook red pepper until crisp-tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add 2 cups broth; bring to a boil.
Combine flour, salt, pepper, and remaining broth until smooth; gradually stir into the pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken and lemon peel. Add spinach; cook just until wilted.
Drain pasta; toss with sauce. Sprinkle with cheese.

Recipe from beckysreview.blogspot.com

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Easy and Delicious Crock Pot Pork Roast

This is the easiest, tastiest pork roast recipe I've found so far. And, to make it even better, pork roast is really inexpensive.
Serve this with "roasted rosemary potatoes" (posted below) and fresh steamed green beans. Scrumptious!

1 5 lb. (approximately) pork roast
1 bottle Russian dressing (Wishbone is a good brand)
1 18 oz. jar apricot jam

Place roast in crock pot
Mix the entire bottle of Russian dressing with 1/2 the jar of apricot jam (or more, according to taste. I prefer 1/2 the jar)
Pour mixture over roast
Cook at 200 for 8 hours (if you're in a hurry, you can also cook it at 275 for 3 hours; it will be good, but less moist and tender)

Tip: I found that putting a little scoop of jam on top of each serving of the finished roast adds a nice sweetness and moisture.

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes

Roasted Rosemary Potatoes (These taste wonderful with "easy and delicious crock pot pork roast" which I've posted above)

2 pounds red potatoes, cut into quarters
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (250 degrees C).
Place potatoes in a large roasting pan and toss with oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary until evenly coated. Spread out potatoes in a single layer.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve immediately.

Recipe from allrecipes.com

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Ah, the irony

I hate the Twilight series, and you may ask, “Why? Because the writing makes Danielle Steele’s novels look brilliant and original in comparison? Because the plot has more holes than Swiss cheese?” Well, yes, those things do bother me. But if writing and plot quality were the only problems with the books, I would simply ignore them and roll my eyes at Twilight mania.

No, the Twilight series angers me for many other reasons—reasons that force me to get on a soap box and be truly annoying. Don’t worry; I will not do that in this post.

Anyway, after patiently listening to all my heated rants about Twilight, my husband suggested I write an article about it; maybe that would soothe my anger…and shut me up.

So, I decided to do just that. But, in order to fairly represent the series, make valid points, and give specific examples, I felt I would need to read all of the books again (I have skimmed them, but never actually read them carefully). And that, dear reader, is why I found myself today at the local library, checking out Twilight and Breaking Dawn, and fervently hoping that I could escape without being seen. I, a lover of Dickens and Hugo, was leaving the library with these offending items in my hands. Ah, the irony! It was like a turophile eating Velveeta.

Please join me in a good laugh at myself and my silly, illogical way of getting this bitterness out of my system. It’s working, by the way. I have already found three pages of vomit-worthy quotes straight from the books, and I’m feeling much better.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Ode to a Grecian yogurt

Ah, heavenly bliss!

Yogurt, the essential catalyst for each of my days, has entered a whole new dimension. After reading in multiple books and magazines about the virtues of Greek yogurt, I finally bought some plain Greek yogurt yesterday.

Dear reader, after that first bite, my life was unalterably changed; that unbelievably thick, creamy concoction will now forever haunt my waking hours. I tried a few combinations, each one better than the last:
1. Plain Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of sugar
2. Plain Greek yogurt with a teaspoon of sugar and frozen blueberries
3. Plain Greek yogurt with a dark chocolate truffle....now THERE is heaven.

Each bite of the magical mixture is a poem. The taste is hard to describe--very rich and tangy, with a hint of mild cheese. And apparently the stuff is very good for you; it contains five different cultures and zero fat. So, go to your local market! Find the Greek yogurt and transport to a new level of yogurt awareness!

The catch in all this yogurt nirvana? Well, Greek yogurt costs about $4.50 for a 16 ounce carton, which is half the size and twice the price of normal yogurt carton; not to mention it's twice the price of an entire half gallon of good ice cream.
So, I'll buy it as often as I can without feeling guilty (perhaps a couple of times a month) and spend the rest of the time counting the days until my next encounter with the NEW Greek goddess....yogurt.

Monday, August 24, 2009

A Splash of Famous Women, Men and Independence

Biographies always intrigue me, and lately I seem to be on a Revolutionary War kick. I am currently reading Thomas Jefferson: A Well Tempered Mind by Carl Binger, Martha Washington: An American Life by Patricia Brady, and Abigail Adams: Witness to a Revolution by Natalie S. Bober. More will reviews will follow after I actually finish all of them, but in the meantime, I will still recommend them. All three are delightful, informative, easy reads. I feel that they are a great introductions for John Adams and 1776 by David McCollough, both of which I will be diving into next. If any of them interest you, happy reading!

Shrimp Scampi

1 lb. tiger or large shrimp (deveined, butterflied and de-shelled with tails left on)
5 T butter
4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 C good white wine (dry)
Salt and Pepper
½ tsp crushed red pepper
Zest of ½ lemon
Juice of ½ lemon
1 T fresh parsley

Sauté shrimp on both sides for approx. 1.5 minutes until pink. Don’t over cook. Remove from pan and combine the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Add shrimp to mixture, combine, add salt and pepper. Finish with lemon zest and sprinkle with fresh parsley

Recipe from http://www.bethenny.com/shrimp_scampi.htm

Healthier Scones

I made these the other day and really enjoyed them; they're the perfect healthy cookie to grab on a busy morning.

Mix together:
2 cups oat flour (oat flour can be made by blending oats in a blender. If you do that, however, you will need to add some normal white flour to add dryness and elasticity to the dough)
¼ cup + 3 Tbsp. raw sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. vegetable shortening
1 mashed banana
½ cup soy milk
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
(Add blueberries to moisten, if desired)

After mixing together, roll to 1 inch thickness and cut with a biscuit-cutter (the mouth of a cup also works just fine). Sprinkle with raw sugar, and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (turn scones over halfway through baking)

Recipe from Health Magazine

Multi-grain Blueberry Pancakes

Mix together:
¾ cup multi-grain pancake mix
1 Tbsp. oil
½ cup + 2 Tbsp. soy milk
½ cup blueberries
Mix together, and cook on griddle until done. Cover with powdered sugar or syrup as desired

Recipe from Health Magazine

Monday, August 10, 2009

Did You Know That...

At one point in the movie It's a Wonderful Life, Thomas Mitchell, who plays "Uncle Billy" drunkenly goes off-screen and is heard crashing into something. He cries in a slurred voice, "I'm all right; I'm all right," and Jimmy Stewart chuckles. Well, that part of the movie was not planned. Mitchell actually ran into some film equipment, and rather than doing a new take, he just ad-libbed the line, and Stewart's chuckle wasn't acting. Fun, eh?
Picture from google images

Piece of Triva for the Day

Jean Arthur, actress and favorite of director Frank Capra (she appears in such movies as The Devil and Miss Jones, Mr. Deeds Goes to Town, You Can't Take it With You, Shane, and more) had a secret, and a very nice one at that: she looked ten years younger than she really was.
Picture from google images

Shrimp Linguini

I found this recipe in Health Magazine today, and it looks delicious. I'll be trying to it this week and will let you know how it goes.

Shrimp Linguini
12 oz. large shrimp, deveined and peeled
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves
10 oz. uncooked linguini
1 cup canned diced tomatoes, undrained
¾ cup clam juice
¼ cup halved Kalamato olives
2 Tablespoons capers
½ cup chopped Italian parsley

1. Bring large pot of water to boil. Season shrimp with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic. Cook 1-2 minutes, or until golden.
2. Add linguini to water. Cook 11 minutes or until al dente (chewy)
3. Add tomatoes and next three ingredients (through capers) to skillet. Cook 5-6 minutes or until reduced by half. Stir in shrimp and garlic and two-thirds of the parsley. Drain pasta and return to pot. Toss shrimp and sauce with pasta. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with remaining parsley.

Book Review

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson

If it were ever possible for me to choose a favorite book...well, I guess that would be impossible. But Mother Tongue is definitely my favorite linguistics/English/language history book. It is hilarious, informative and devoted entirely to language---an English major's wildest dreams come true! I read this book for a project in college. I procrastinated until the end of the semester and only had two days to read the entire book and create my portfolio--a pretty daunting prospect. But, because the book was so amazing, it was probably the most fun and easy procrastinating I ever did. Bill Bryson's writing is genius; I also recommend his Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and A Short History of Nearly Everything.

Picture from wikipedia.org

Mistaken Ideas of Womanhood Corrected in Proverbs 31

belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I have heard some disturbing sentiments of late from women in my church. I've heard them say things like

"Women have it so hard in this church. We are supposed to get an education, find a college major that we like and that could possibly support a family, yet we must be willing to drop it at a moment's notice in order to be stay-at-home moms like we're supposed to be. Sigh."

To those women, I say this:
1. Get off your martyr-kick.
2. You've got this church's view of women all wrong!
3. Without even delving into what Church officials have said, etc., you can just read Proverbs 31! In that chapter, you will see what the Lord considers "a virtuous woman." And that virtuous woman is NOT someone who has let her education or mind go to waste.

Below I have listed the qualities and activities of a virtuous woman, as presented in Proverbs 31.

A Virtuous Woman (In ancient times as well as today):
verse 11-12: is faithful and loving to her husband.
verse 13: Is creative, seeking out projects and activities that enrich her life.
verse 14: Is industrious, proactive and independent.
verse 15: Rises early, gives and serves others willingingly.
verse 16: Is self-sufficient, bringing in money and blessings through her own talents and hard work.
verse 17: Is physically, spiritually and emotionally healthy and strong.
verse 18: Is confident. Is not idle. Enjoys working, creating and doing in her spare time.
verse 19: Is talented and capable.
verse 20: Is mindful of and helpful to those in need.
verse 21: Thinks ahead, is prepared.
verse 22: Is comely in appearance and gifted at working with her hands (or we could say, gifted at working with her own set of abilities and education).
verse 24: Uses her talents, resources, abilities and knowledge to bring in money and satisfaction.
verse 25: Strength and honor show in her countenance. She is content and peaceful about the future.
verse 26: Not afraid to speak out and state her opinion, but speaks with wisdom and kindness.
verse 27: Her family and household are a huge priority. She is always working for their welfare.
verse 28: She is a wonderful wife and mother, and her husband and children laud her for it.
verse 29: Fulfills to the fullest all the opportunities and callings in her life (including family and church callings).
verse 30: Fears the Lord and doesn't care about what other people think.
verse 31: Makes a difference in the lives of those around her, and therefore...in the world.

Now, ladies, does this virtuous woman sound oppressed to you? Does it sound like she is expected to give up her education, her interests, her creativity, her life? I don't think so. This woman is full of grace, accomplishments, and intelligence. This woman is respected, loved and honored. She does not consider motherhood and wifehood a bondage, but an opportunity. This woman speaks up and uses her talents to do amazing things.

Now I speak to women in general, not just women of my church: please know that the Lord wants you to get as much education as possible. He wants you to grow and blossom and thrive. He wants you to have every blessing and opportunity that you can possibly handle. He wants you to have a family and an amazing life as well. So, please, rejoice in being a woman, a wife, a mother, a college graduate...use your talents, and "let your own works praise you in the gates."

Wonderful Article

The proposed government health care plan has quite disturbed me. In the link below, Mark Steyn sets aside the problems with the actual health care plan and focuses on the hypocrisy and down-right sinister approach government is taking to squelch opposition to its plan. This article is not only right on the mark, but also hilarious.
The Community Is Restless by Mark Steyn on National Review Online


Book Review

French Women Don't Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano

Mouthwatering French recipes, oodles of style, silly stories and fun fitness tips make this one of my favorite books to munch on. However, don't read it as a cure for getting fat; read it with a piece of Dove chocolate in your mouth. This book is pure delight--why spoil it with thoughts of pounds?

Photo from mireilleguiliano.com

Elegant Spinach Salad

When I found this in a health magazine, I thought it would go perfectly with the carrot soup and poached pear recipes I've posted. However, I've yet to try all three together. If you feel the urge to test the entire trio, let me know how they all turn out!

Spinach salad
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp oil
3 pears, peeled, cored, sliced
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tbsp minced shallot
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
½ cup apple juice
2 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 bag spinach (16 oz)
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese (I also love goat cheese)
1. In skillet toast pecans, add 2 tsp oil, add pears, sprinkle with brown sugar, don’t stir.
2. Cook pears 5 minutes or until lightly browned on the bottom. Stir to melt sugar. Put pears on plate.
3. Add remaining oil to pan. Add shallots, salt and pepper. Stir till fragrant. Add juice, vinegar and mustard. Whisk, simmer 3-4 mintes until slightly reduced. Add pears. Toss mixture with spinach, put cheese and nuts on top.

Perfectly Poached Pears

I got this recipe from Mireille Guiliano's French Women Don't Get Fat. It's incredibly simple, but if you serve it with the right flair, your friends will think you've gone gourmet chef!

Poached pears
2 cups wine (I use a wine substitute like grape juice, sparkling grape juice, cranberry juice, etc)
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 bosc pears, peeled, cored and halved
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

1. In a saucepan, bring the wine (or substitute) and sugar to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for five minutes.
2. Add the lemon juice and pears. Cook for ten minutes over medium to low flame. Cool and refrigerate.
3. Bring the pears to room temperature before serving. Add 1 scoop of vanilla ice cream to each serving. For extra luxury, serve each pear in a little pool of melted dark chocolate (My personal favorite is a 60% dark chocolate with a smooth filling in the center)

Unbelievable Carrot Soup

I'm always searching for flavorful, fun and healthy things to cook. I found this recipe in a health magazine; it's so decadent you would never know it's healthy! (I would recommend serving this carrot soup with spinach salad and poached pears for dessert. I've posted the recipes for both.)

Carrot soup (200 calories per serving)

2 tsp olive oil
4 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 small white onion, peeled and chopped
1 clove minced garlic
3 tbsp fresh ginger
1 cup diced/cubed butternut squash
1 diced and peeled apple
4 ½ cups vegetable broth
1½ tsp salt
12 oz. can light coconut milk
1 diced and peeled bosc pear
2 tsp minced chives
4 slices whole wheat toasted bread

1. Sautee carrots and onions until soft. Add next four ingredients (through apple). Sautee until fragrant.
2. Add broth and salt. Reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer covered for 45 minutes or until veggies are tender.
3. Blend mixture in blender (I would recommend blending a little at a time, not the whole mixture at once. When I tried it all at once it splattered everywhere). Add coconut milk, then salt to taste. Garnish with diced pear and chives.

image from grimmway.com

Explanation and Hello

Welcome to my new blog! Created completely for fun, I will stuff it with posts about language, literature, food, classic movies, music, religious thoughts, and some occasional rants and politics. Bon appetit!