Thursday, October 29, 2009

Curry Killz Cancer

Studies are showing that chemicals in Turmeric can kill cancer cells. Turmeric also stains things yellow! But yeah for cancer kill agents! Might have to make some curry soon, just to be safe!

Curry spice 'kills cancer cells'

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting the most from the goods...

If you read something on the interwebz, it must be true right? Sure!

Here's an interesting, short article I saw online about bioavailability...getting the most nutrients out of your food. Your body only absorbs so much of the good stuff on its own. Sometimes with a little extra something something, you get more bang for your buck!!! For example, if you cook your tomatoes, the cooking process makes more lycopene available to your body, you do lose some vitamin C though. If you add black pepper, the chemicals there help more stuff make it into your system.

Some good tips. If nothing else, it's interesting...
Bioavailability: How to Get More Nutrients from Your Food

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A quick heart attack recipe

White Cheese & Sausage Pasta
from Culinary in the Desert

I made this for dinner last night. It was good! Gut bomb good! Spicy from the sausage. Ridiculously creamy and gooey from the cheese and bechamel sauce. Stupid Good. I more or less followed the recipe; even though I didn't have it in front of me, so some of the quantities were off and I ad libbed a bit. Added some shredded white cheddar cheese (1/2 cup) as well as the mozzarella and parm.

Instead of using another baking dish, I made sure to boil the pasta in an oven-proof pot. After I drained the pasta, I dumped it back in the pot and poured the sausage/sauce mixture over, stirred and baked. Saved us a little extra clean up. I used a half pound of spicy ground pork sausage, not turkey sausage. I don't think it matters much. But use the spicy if you like some good heat. If not, use regular, but add a little red pepper flake. You want some heat to cut through all the creamy, cheesey goodness.

4 cups dry rigatoni or any other short tube-shaped pasta
8 ounces hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 TB butter
3 TB all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3 ounces fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp salt
4 ounces shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 400

In a large pot of boiling salted water, add pasta and cook according to package directions. Drain.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, add sausage - cook until browned, stirring to crumble. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.

Add butter to the same skillet and allow to melt over medium heat - whisk in flour and allow to cook, whisking, for a minute or two. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Cook, stirring, until thick, about 8 minutes - remove from heat.

In a large bowl, toss together the sauce, cooked sausage Parmesan, crushed red pepper and salt. Scoop the mixture into a 7" x 11" baking dish coated with nonstick spray. Scatter the top with mozzarella. Bake until bubbly and the top is lightly browned, about 20 minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Beef Stew

This recipe for Oven Beef Stew is adapted from one shared with readers in a recent Penzey's catalogue.

The key to this adaptation is to find a very tender cut of beef. The original recipe has this cook for 5 hours...I cooked it for an hour. Long enough to make most beef pretty tough and chewy. But having a tender cut that slow cooks, for only an hour, in a wet environment, is key.

That being said...I didn't read what type of beef this was and was surprised how tender it was after an hour of cooking! Trial and error my friends. Sorry.

Oven Beef Stew
adapted from Penzey's

1 1/2 lb beef, cubed and trimmed.
2-3 large potatoes, peeled, cubed
1 onion, large diced
4-5 carrots, peeled and cubed
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
2 tsp Oregano, dried
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 TB vegetable oil
Broth-chicken or beef or combo

Preheat oven to 350.

Coat the beef with the vegetable oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Sear the beef in a large pot, over medium high heat. You are trying to get a browned crust, not cook the meat through. Remove the beef to a bowl.

Add the onions to the pot and stir. Add the oregano. Stir. Add the tomatoes. Cover with broth and add the beef. Stir. Cover and place in the oven for 1/2 hour.

At the 1/2 hour mark, stir and add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook for another 1/2 hour, or until the vegetables are tender.

Serve hot!

Notes: If you want the broth to be thicker, you can stir in a cornstarch slurry (equal parts cornstarch and cold liquid) to thicken it, or bring to a simmer over the stove, uncovered to allow the broth to reduce.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Using up apples

I made apple crisp the other night, using up some apples before I buy more at this weekend's market.

I didn't really follow a recipe. I started with 6-7 apples that I peeled, cored and cut into 8ths...give or take. I tossed those with a little sugar and cinnamon and dumped them in a baking dish. I mixed the 'crisp:' oatmeal, chopped almonds, 3/4 stick of melted butter, brown sugar, vanilla sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Toss until well mixed. Dump on top of the apples and bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

Delicious! The only thing missing was a little flour with the apples to help make them a little saucy instead of juicy, but it really didn't matter. Still good!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Random Flavors

This was a fun adventure the other evening. We've been trying to avoid the store and use up any of our pantry items. I don't really have a name for this, but it's almost a cross between an Alfredo and Carbonnara sauce, with some French, German or Alsatian influences.

I started by browning some bacon pieces until crisp. I set the bacon aside and poured out the fat. To the pan I melted a TB of butter and browned about half an onion, diced small. When the onions were just beginning to brown I added some dried thyme and rosemary. I deglazed the pan with one cup of chicken broth. When that had reduced by half, I added some heavy cream. Bring this to a simmer and allow to reduce further until the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Turn off the heat and add about 1/2 a cup of grated Parmigiana Reggiano. Stir until incorporated, melted and smooth. Add half the bacon to the sauce and add whatever cooked pasta your are using. Stir. Garnish with the rest of the bacon.

This was very tasty, but it was an interesting blend of flavors. With the rosemary and thyme, I felt the sauce was more of an Alsatian style cream sauce. With the cheese and bacon I felt it resembled a standard Alfredo or Carbonnara. The bacon also seemed to lend itself to a German influence as well. All in all, it was tasty. But a tad salty, with the bacon and cheese, I didn't need an extra few pinches of salt to the cream. Oh well. Great on a chilly night.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Cold Meets Warm!

I'm not a big follower of the belief that there are certain foods that are appropriate or in appropriate based on the seasons. Sure, I try to use as many seasonal items as I can, but if I am craving a bowl of chili in the summer, I'm going to have it. Or if I want a light tangy salad in the middle of winter, I'll find a way to make it happen.

But there are certain times when you just need to fire up the stove to pull together a pot of chili when it's chilly! The past few days have been damp and cool. Last night were were hovering around 50 degrees and rainy. Perfect for a bowl of Cincinnati Chili full of warm, aromatic spices like cinnamon, all spice and cayenne pepper. Rich and mellow, a perfect chaser on a chilly night**.

Cincinnati Chili

...served with buttered pasta (best with spaghetti, but most any type works. Garnish with shredded cheese, sour cream, diced onions or tomatoes, beans, whatever your favorite chili garnish is, use it!

**And if you are a scrooge like me and are unwilling to turn the heat on; just waiting for the temp to drop just a bit more, you can temporarily avoid the chilly spousal wrath by providing a belly warming meal like this.

Monday, October 12, 2009


The other night was a simple night. One in which we went back to our German roots. A very tasty evening of embracing the waning days of Oktoberfest.

Kielbasa with sauerkraut and pan-fried potatoes.

Fried potatoes--cook them your favorite way. I liked these, diced just shy of 1/4 inch dice. Season liberally with salt, pepper and...I know...Mrs. Dash. Right here, in college, this was a meal for me. On special occasions, I would also get a little sour cream or grated parmesan. But generally, it was one or two potatoes, diced, seasoned and fried. Not the best nutrition, but I wasn't hungry!

The main part of this dinner was the kielbasa and sauerkraut. Cut the sausage into 1/4 inch half slices. Fry in a pan until they start to crisp up and brown. Season with 1 teaspoon of paprika, some salt and pepper. Stir.

Meanwhile, rinse the sauerkraut under cold water and drain. When the sausages are crisp and brown to your liking, stir in the 'kraut. (I bought a 1 lb bag, I think that's the smallest size you can get of the "fresh" variety). Season with 1 teaspoon of crushed caraway seeds. Add 1/2-1 cup of chicken broth. Simmer for 5-10 minutes until warm. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot. Simple, pretty fast, hearty and pretty tasty.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Curry & Shrimp

Last night I took a recipe from a recent Penzey's catalog and reworked it a bit to make Coconut Curry Shrimp. The recipe had lots of promise, but I think we were thwarted by less than stellar ingredients. Sadly, without driving all over town, I didn't get the best quality shrimp for this dish.

All that being said, this could be a really good curry base for other main ingredients including chicken, lamb and/or vegetables.

Onions and butter with a blend of curry blends, little salt and some pepper.

Onions, curry, diced tomatoes, lemon juice, coconut milk. A great simmer sauce!

I was preparing to cook the shrimp and I was fascinated by the way the butter was melting in the pan.

Sauted shrimp. I seasoned the shrimp with another Penzey's spice blend-Balti Seasoning.

Stir the shrimp into the sauce and simmer for a minute or two. Serve with rice.

Coconut Curry Shrimp
adapted from Penzey's

For 2 large servings

1 lb shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
1 TB Balti Seasoning
2 TB butter
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp, fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 TB Sweet Curry Powder
1 tsp Hot Curry Powder (optional)
1 tsp Garam Masala (optional)
1 TB fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 14 oz can, diced tomatoes, drained (reserve the juice)
1 14 oz can, coconut milk
salt/pepper to taste

1) Clean the shrimp and toss with the Balti Seasoning. Hold in the fridge until ready to cook.

2) In a large pan, saute onions over medium heat, in 2 TB of butter. When translucent, add the garlic & ginger. Cook until fragrant. Add curry powder(s) and Garam Masala. Saute for 5 minutes. Add the lemon juice, simmer for one minute. Add the tomatoes. Stir to incorporate, simmer for 5 minutes.

3) Add the coconut milk and bring to a low simmer. Taste and adjust seasoning.

4) Time to cook the shrimps. In a pan over medium high heat, quickly cook shrimp with oil or butter. Cook for up to 2 minutes per side. If the shrimp are not completely cooked through, it's ok, they will continue to cook in the simmer sauce.

5) Serve hot and over rice.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


Plenty has been said about yesterday's announcement that Gourmet is shutting down after 60+ years. I'm not going to add to the dialogue, just share a well written post & opinion (which I share) by Barbara at Tigers & Strawberries.

Gourmet Magazine: Going, Going Gone?

Risotto with Butternut Squash and Rosemary

As the weather cools, it's time for some warm comfort food. Perhaps some risotto?!?!?!

For risotto, you need Arborio rice, a short grain rice that is conducive to the creamy delicious rice dish. To make risotto, use this recipe here. The only change I made this time was to stir in some chopped, fresh rosemary in the beginning while I cooked the onions, then another small pinch at the very end. This gives the rosemary a chance to create two layers of flavor, a deep, embedded flavor and a bright, green, piney flavor at the end.

To kick up the risotto, I took a butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced it, about 1/4 inch pieces. Toss with olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and put into a preheated 450 degree oven until tender and golden. I think it was about 20-30 minutes, I wasn't really paying attention.

Tiny orange jewels. Little pieces of candy really. The flavor was mild, earthy and sweet. Soft and tender. Really delightful. These roasted pieces of butternut squash would be good with any number of dishes. But for this meal, I had plans.

While the risotto was cooking, I seared two seasoned chicken breasts. When they were done cooking, I used some shallots, a bit more risotto, Chardonnay and chicken broth to make a wonderfully rich pan sauce that was spooned over the sliced chicken. Together with the Risotto and Butternut Squash, this was a wonderful, nearly perfect autumnal meal! I choose to spoon the butternut squash over the top of the risotto, instead of stirring it into the risotto. Two reasons; 1) once cooked down, the small squash left us with about a cup of cooked squash, not very much and considering I made probably twice as much risotto as I needed, 2) I wanted to save the second half of risotto for some treats later this week. Do as you wish!