Thursday, July 14, 2016

Lemon Cheesecake Mousse

Mousse is my latest favorite dessert to try, this one was my third.  First it was blueberry then peanut butter and now lemon curd.  When made small they are great for travel, parties, keep your portion size down, and in this case it felt light and refreshing even though it was cream cheese, lemon curd and whipped cream.  The lemon curd dominated but the whipped cream did lighten it up.  It was great but I'm thinking I would like it a bit more tart and a bit less sweet so I'll try the changes in pink next time.  I used one less tablespoon of butter so the graham crust stayed loose which was OK, not expected but worth the calorie cut.  I froze two to see how it worked it was perfect and thaws quickly so I put the reset in the fridge since it made around 40, 2 oz. disposable cups.  Since I don't keep salted butter on hand I will add a pinch of salt next time.


LEMON CHEESECAKE MOUSSE
Crust:
¾ C. crushed graham crackers (6 full sheets)
2 T. sugar
2 T. butter
¼ t. salt, add
Whipped Cream:
1 ½ C. heavy cream
⅓ C. powdered sugar (try 2 T. instead)
Mousse:
2 ½ T. fresh lemon juice (try more)
1 ½ T. water
1 ½ t. unflavored gelatin powder (½ t. shy of full pkg.)
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
10 oz. jar lemon curd
⅔ C. powdered sugar (try none)

Crush graham crackers.  In a small bowl, microwave butter for 30 seconds.  Mix graham crackers and sugar with butter and press into dessert cups.  Set aside.
In a small bowl mix lemon juice and water.  Sprinkle gelatin evenly over top.  Let rest 5 minutes.
In a stand mixer whip heavy cream until soft peaks form.  Add powdered sugar, whip until stiff but not lumpy.  Scrape whipping cream from bowl and add to another bowl.  Add  cream cheese and whip until smooth and fluffy.  Add lemon curd and powdered sugar.  Mix until smooth.  Heat rested gelatin mixture in the microwave on high for 30 seconds.  Whisk for 1 minute to thoroughly dissolve gelatin, let cool 3 minutes (no longer or it may start to set leaving you with a lumpy mousse).  While mixing cream cheese, slowly add gelatin and blend to combined.  Gently fold in ⅓ of the whipped cream into cream cheese, then fold in the rest.  Soon or pipe into dessert cups over graham cracker layer.  Cover and refrigerate 2 hours (or up to 1 day ahead) to set.  Garnish as desired.  Serve cold.  Makes 40 (2 oz.) servings.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zucchini Rice Pie

Recipe names fool me.  I put it on my weekly menu, head to the store to purchase ingredients based on the name and once I read the entire recipe and start to make it I realize that it is similar to something I have made before or it is not what I thought it was going to be based on the recipe name. Sometimes that's a disadvantage and sometimes it works out.  I made a Taco Salad this week and it was really a salad with a Lime Vinaigrette with a few Mexican additions.  Don't get me wrong it was good but Taco Salad speaks to me and this was was speaking a different language.

I wanted to try this recipe because I wanted to try this method of cooking instant rice in the oven, I had garden squash to use up, I thought it was healthy, "Zucchini Pie" and here is where I didn't pay attention.  It was high in fat, 17g per slice.  The calories were not bad at 257 but when you eat two slices the fat doubles making something bad even worse.  What I will say about this recipe is that it was easy, quick, tasty with a touch of heat but it is more of a rice pie topped with zucchini hence the new name.   Then as I look at my other so called zucchini pies I realized that they all are more zucchini topped and they had a cheese filling so I'm going to give this one a break and I will make it again but next time I'll serve it with a big salad so I only eat one slice and I'll look at changing up the mayo into something more healthy.  Original recipe came from Cuisine at Home, #117, May/June 2016 pg. 46.

ZUCCHINI RICE PIE
2 zucchini or yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 egg, beaten
1 C. dry instant white rice
1 C. chicken broth
1 C. sharp Cheddar, shredded
⅓ C. mayonnaise
½ t. red pepper flakes
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
¼ C. Parmesan, grated
1 t. dry Italian seasoning
¼ t. Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 400°F.  In a large bowl add egg, beat, add rice, chicken broth, cheddar, mayo and red pepper flakes.  Stir.  Grease a 9" shallow pie plate.  Pour rice mixture into plate.  Top with thinly sliced zucchini, in circles, starting with and outside circle and working towards the middle with smaller circles.  Pour butter sauce over top.  Bake 25 minutes.  Serve.

Note:  One change I'll try next time is to melt the butter, add the salt and pour that over top then sprinkle the spices and Parmesan over that.  As you can see in the pix when it is all added to the butter it clumps on the top of the pie, that is what the dark brown lumps are it is the spices and Parmesan.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Oriental Chicken Salad

This recipe had been in my cookbook for year but I can't remember making it and I don't know where it came from.  Since I also didn't have a picture of it I had to give it a try to see if it was worthy of remaining in my cookbook.

What I liked about it is that I could do the rice salad part ahead of time and then before I served it I chopped up one romaine heart which equaled 3 C. of lettuce and tossed it with.  I sort of felt it needed maybe something sweet or something more but in the end I kept it the same and loved it.

ORIENTAL CHICKEN SALAD
1 (4.9 oz.) pkg. Rice a Roni chicken and broccoli
2 C. chopped rotisserie chicken
1 romaine heart (3 C.), chopped
1 C. shredded carrots
1 C. fresh pea pods, halved
Dressing:
½ C. mayonnaise
1 T. liquid aminos or soy sauce
¼ t. ground ginger
⅛ t. crushed red pepper flakes

Prepare Rice a Roni mix as package directs; cool.  Add remaining ingredients.  Mix well chill. Makes 8 servings.

Note:  Original recipe called for 2 C. shredded lettuce, but since romaine lettuce is heartier it doesn't wilt as quick and it is also the lettuce I always have on hand because it lasts.


This Chinese Chicken Salad has been a favorite prior to 2006 and I'm surprised I didn't see it posted already so I'm adding it here.  This one is even better because it tastes great and you have to make it 24 hours in advance so it lasts longer in the fridge if you are not sharing.   I got this recipe from Karen, a girl I met at Masses.  It wasn't till 8/7/2014 that I finally made it myself and I should have made it sooner.  She used 17 oz. of coleslaw but my package was only 14 oz. and that was fine so use the amount you find. 

CHINESE SALAD
2 pkg. beef ramen soup, noodles crushed
14-17 oz. package coleslaw mix
½ C. sunflower seeds
½ C. almonds, sliced
1 bunch green onions, sliced
Dressing:
¾ C. oil
⅓ C. vinegar
½ C. sugar
1 ramen flavor package, from soup package

In a large glass bowl, layer crushed noodles, coleslaw, sunflower seeds, almonds and green onions.  In a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, sugar and one ramen flavor package.  Pour over salad.  Cover and refrigerate 24 hours.  

Notes:  

  • Crush noodles into tiny pieces.  If you leave large chunks they will not get as soft but a few small chunks are OK.  Best way it to break it in half and rub each piece against each other.
  • The first time I made this I forgot to add the flavor package to the dressing so before I tossed the salad I sprinkled one of the packages on top, tossed and let it sit 15 minutes to combine flavors.  The next time I used both packages in the dressing and finally I did what it said.  I couldn't seem to get it right but it is a very tasty salad any way

Variation:  Add 2 C. fresh broccoli florets.











Thursday, April 14, 2016

New Recipes this week include Thai Curry Chicken Stew and Roasted Zucchini

Original recipe for this "Authentic Thai Red Curry with Chicken" recipe came from food.com.  I used the whole jar of Thai Kitchen red curry paste which is what he recommended but thought others would think it was too spicy but this wasn't spicy so next time I will add Sriracha and try one of the brands of curry paste he recommended or more of the Thai Kitchen brand I used.  Original recipe suggested Pantai or Mae Ploy.  At first I wasn't sure if this was going to be right, the broth barely came over the chunky vegetables but as it cooked so did they of course so the veggies reduced but the broth did not.  I wish I would have sauteed the onions more to add sweetness since I reduced the sugar from ⅓ C.  I also forgot the celery which I will add next time along with more ginger, the fresh basil which I didn't have on hand, coconut oil vs. grape seed oil and double the tomatoes since I did grape tomatoes vs. cherry.  I liked it but it wasn't coco-nutty, spicy or sweet which I expected so I need to work on it to fit my tastes.  The items in red are changes I will make next time.  As for the chicken I used 2 breasts and 2 thighs but use what is cheapest or what you have on hand.  After looking up other recipes on the web I modified my process and have added a thickener to try next time just to see the difference.  The broth was thin but that was not a problem so I'm not sure if thicker will be better.  One surprise was the green bell peppers, they were not over whelming.  I typically omit green bell peppers or replace them with red but since I love my bell pepper soup I decided to keep this recipe as stated and I was not disappointed.

THAI RED CURRY CHICKEN STEW
Saute:
1 T. coconut oil
4 oz. jar (8 T.) red curry paste (not spicy enough, try another brand or more)
½ " small piece grated ginger (use more-1" or 1T.)
2 onions, chopped
4 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 pieces boneless skinless chicken (breasts, thighs, mix)
Add:
3 (13.5 oz.) cans Imperial Dragon coconut milk (see note)
1 ½ C. chicken stock
1 sm. chicken bouillon cube
1 t. fish sauce
1 T. Sriracha hot sauce
¼ C. sugar
1 t. Kosher salt
1 T. lemon juice (try lime)
8 basil leaves
1 t. dried basil
2 (12") Japanese eggplants, quartered, sliced
20 grape tomatoes, halved
1 C. pre shredded carrots
Thicken:
1-2 t. cornstarch 
3 t. cold water
Serving:
4 C. cooked jasmine rice

Prep vegetables and set aside in separate bowls.  Cut grape tomatoes in half.  Chop onion, bell pepper, celery, eggplant and chicken into bite sized pieces.   If using whole carrots shred with a vegetable peeler.  In a large 5 qt. stock pot add coconut oil and heat till oil is hot but not smoking.  Add curry paste and ginger.  Saute 1 minute.  Add onion, celery and pepper, saute 5 minutes or till onions are translucent.  Add chicken, cook to brown 2-3 minutes.   Add remaining soup ingredients:  milk, stock, bouillon, fish sauce, hot sauce, sugar, salt, lemon, basil, eggplants, tomatoes, carrots and Kale.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes.  Serve over Jasmine rice.

Notes:  Red curry should be spicy and the ratio is typically 1 T. paste to 1 C. liquid.  One can of coconut milk, which may have been Chaokoh Coconut Milk, had a layer of hard coconut milk/oil and a thin liquid under that.  The other two cans, all different brands were mixed and creamy.  I tossed the one with the layer of hard milk and used the creamy ones.

The other thing I cooked this week was roasted salmon, not new, only difference was that I added sliced zucchini and red onions to the grape tomato roast and on the plate finished it with a drizzle of maple balsamic.  It made zucchini great.

ROASTED SALMON & TOMATOES
Drizzle EVOO
1 pint grape tomatoes
1 ½ T. (5-6 5” sprigs) fresh thyme leaves, reserve ½ t.
Sprinkle garlic salt
¼ t. coarse black pepper
2-4 salmon fillets

Heat oven 425°F.  Line a rimmed cookie sheet with foil.  Drizzle with oil.  Remove the thyme leaves from the stems.  On half the cookie sheet toss tomatoes with thyme, EVOO, sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Drizzle other side with oil, add salmon.  Sprinkle with more garlic salt and pepper and reserved thyme.  Roast another 10 minutes or until salmon is just cooked through.  Serve salmon topped with tomatoes.

Note:  You know you have over cooked your salmon if it starts to “cry” which is the white fat that will show up on top if your fillet if cook too long.  Don’t make you salmon cry.  You can still eat it it just may be a tad dry.

Serving Suggestions:  

  • Asparagus:  Add to roasting pan with tomatoes.
  • Zucchini:  Add zucchini and red onions next to grape tomatoes.  Finish with a drizzle of maple balsamic on plate
  • Sautéed spinach & white beans 

Variations:

  • Add diced green onions to tomato toss.  Shown here with the asparagus.
  • Add minced garlic to the tomato toss vs garlic salt.
  • Mexican Flare:  Add some fresh corn kernels to the tomato toss and stir cilantro after cooked in place of the thyme.
  • Drizzle cooked filet with Maple Balsamic for a sweet touch!
  • Foil Pkg:  Place veggies on bottom, salmon on top and close up foil.  

Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Recipe was a winner first try, Curried Parsnip Apple Soup

Although the house smelt like curry the soup was worth it.  Light but flavorful with my homemade stock from a rotisserie chicken bones.  I forgot to top it with a dollop of yogurt but I'll try that next time.  I served it with garlic ricotta pesto bread which was great but probably not the best pairing. Original recipe came from Eating Well Jan/Feb 2014 magazine.
CURRIED PARSNIP APPLE SOUP
Drizzle grape seed oil
1 ½ lb. parsnips, peeled, chopped
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 C. chicken stock
1 russet potato, peeled, chopped
1 granny smith apple, peeled, chopped
1 ½ t. curry powder
1 ½ t. ground coriander
1 t. ground ginger
4 t. lemon juice
½ t. Kosher salt
¼ t. coarse black pepper
Topping:  Dollop yogurt

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Add parsnips and onion.  Cook stirring occasionally until onions are soft about 5-7 minutes.  Chop garlic, potato and apple.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add broth, potato, apple, curry, coriander, cumin and ginger; bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer until vegetables are tender when mashed against the side of the pot, about 20 minutes.  Puree with an emulsion blender or in batches with a regular blender.  Add lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Makes 5 side dish servings or 3 meals.