Friday, June 26, 2009

French Toast with Blueberry Sauce

french toast with blueberry sauce

In an attempt to avoid finding yet another pint of fuzzy blueberries in my refrigerator, I decided to make a quick warm blueberry sauce for this week's dinner of French toast with maple-flavored chicken sausage.

It was so easy that I can't believe I haven't made it before. It was decadent and a welcome change from maple syrup. This recipe served three of us nicely.

Blueberry Sauce

1 cup of blueberries (I used fresh, but you can use frozen)
1/4 cup sugar (adjust to taste)
1 T. corn starch
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 t. cinnamon

In saucepan, combine sugar and corn starch. Boil until sugar is dissolved. Add blueberries and cinnamon. Cook for about 8 minutes, watching closely. You may need to add more water if too thick. Would also be yummy to add a tablespoon of butter. Serve over crepes, pancakes, or French toast.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Easy Chicken and Dumplings

easy chicken and dumplings
It's hard to believe that a dish like Easy Chicken and Dumplings would taste great and hit the spot at the end of June, but here we are.

I had my first bowl of Chicken and Dumplings a couple of months ago, and I couldn't believe how simple and yummy it is. Where has this dish been my whole life? Dumplings = A Yummy Treat.

I've been tweaking it and adjusting it to my family's tastes, and tonight I hit the jackpot. DB prefers boneless chicken breasts, but the kids and I love dark meat, so we got our way tonight. It's way better with dark meat, I must say.

It's such a cheat to use store-bought biscuits. When I have the time to try them from scratch, I'll let you know the results. And you may prefer to cook the carrots along with the chicken. I cook them on the side so people can add how much they want, and they don't get overcooked. Try adding onions and fresh dill.

This dish will chase your summer chills away!?!

Easy Chicken and Dumplings
1 package boneless, skinless chicken thighs (5)
3 cans lower sodium chicken broth
salt & pepper

2 T. corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup cold water

1 can Pillsbury biscuits

cooked carrots and peas on the side

Place the chicken in a Dutch oven on the stove. Cover with chicken broth. Add a little water if needed to cover the chicken. Bring it up to a boil, skimming off any scum. Then, let it simmer gently until it's cooked through. (Mine took about 45 minutes.) Then, remove the chicken and shred it with two forks. Mix the corn starch with the water, and pour that into the simmering broth. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Plop them into the broth. Submerge the biscuits a little with the back of your spoon. Cover for 10 minutes at a simmer. Remove the cover and cook until the biscuits are done, about 10 minutes more. Serve with cooked carrots and peas.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Books for Foodies

The Saucier's Apprentice by Bob SpitzAm I officially a Foodie? I don't know. But I have discovered that I love, love reading books about food and restaurants.

Several months ago, on the first day of April vacation, instead of taking out yet another cookbook from the library (which is so fun!), I stumbled upon The Saucier's Apprentice, by Bob Spitz. Not only did I enjoy Spitz's writing style, but I also savored the chance to tag along with him as he visited restaurants and cooking schools in Europe that I can only dream about (for now!). This book was a treat to read.

Heat by BIll Buford
This book began my obsession of finding books written by restaurant critics and chefs. Next, I found "Heat, An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany" by Bill Buford. Although I am a huge Food Network fan and you'd think I'd be interested in reading about a man who worked for Mario Batali, I could not get through this book. I read enough about Batali to learn that he drinks a ton, and he has been known to take food out of the trash (allegedly) because it could be used for another dish. I read only about one-half of the book before returning it to the library.

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth ReichlThis book did not stop me from finding some more books on this topic. Next, I read "Garlic and Sapphires: the Secret Life of a Food Critic in Disguise" by Ruth Reichl. I recognized Reichl's name on the shelf because she is featured on one of my favorite shows on TV, "Gourmet's Diary of a Foodie." (TiVo it!) I loved this book. Reichl describes in great detail some well known restaurants in New York City and includes some nice recipes too. Very fun.

The most recent book that I've read which falls into this category is a memoir from Linda Ellerbee cTake Big Bites by Linda Ellerbeealled "Take Big Bites: Adventures Around the World and Across the Table." Score! It was fun being transported to places around the world with her. I now have Greece on my list of places to visit some day.

Here's a link to Books For Foodies II.

I would love to hear from you if you know of more books I could try. Happy reading!

Coffee with the Hummingbirds

Have you ever seen a hummingbird? If you have, then you know the excitement that you feel each time they decide to grace you with their company. My favorite way to start the day is to enjoy a hot cup of coffee on my back porch, waiting for the hummingbirds to visit. Their unmistakable little chirp is a welcome sound. Now, if only the weather would start cooperating! (Insert the sound of falling rain in background.)

This is my second year feeding hummingbirds. I now have three feeders in the hopes so that I never miss one. I bought this pretty feeder at Home Depot. I was worried that my little friends wouldn't like the muted red tone of the flowers, but that hasn't been a problem.

I used to buy that red liquid that is sold alongside the feeders, but that never attracted any hummingbirds for me. As soon as I started making my own nectar (boil 4 parts water with 1 part of sugar for 2 minutes, cool to room temperature), they started to visit right away.

If you've never seen a hummingbird, you're missing a treat. When I see one, I'm reminded to appreciate the little things. Take time to stop and watch the hummingbirds!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Turkey Meatballs with Spaghetti

turkey meatballs and spaghetti
I'm always trying to find new, yummy ways to use ground turkey. My family prefers ground beef, but I am determined to convince them ground turkey tastes good! Does it taste the same as ground beef? No, but it is still good.

I adapted this recipe from the Food Network. I only buy "extra lean" turkey, so the guilt factor is very low. The next day, we ate the leftover meatballs on wheat bread.

Turkey Meatballs

1 1/4 pounds ground turkey
1 small onion, grated
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil
2 to 3 cloves minced garlic
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs (fresh is best)
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, for dusting the meat balls before browning

Quick Tomato Sauce
1 28-ounce can Pastene Kitchen Ready tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 carrot, grated
2 T olive oil
1 - 2 t. sugar
3 or 4 stalks fresh basil, chopped

Mix turkey, onion, oregano, basil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Add eggs, bread crumbs, and milk. Roll meatballs to desired size. Heat a large saute pan. Add oil and butter and cook over medium heat. Dust meatballs in a little flour and brown. The meatballs should be browned on medium heat.

Meanwhile, make the sauce. Saute carrot in olive oil. Add the garlic. Cook over low to medium heat until soft. Add tomatoes and sugar and simmer for about 15 minutes.

After meatballs are brown, place in the sauce. Simmer until meatballs are completely cooked through. Add the basil before serving.