Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Beginning and an End to a Thanksgiving Meal

Thanksgiving! Yay!

So, if I ignore the injustices we as a nation have heaped on the Native Americans that helped our early settlers make it through the early lean years, then Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. No gift obligations, just good food, loved ones, and taking times to be grateful for all the good in our lives.

This year is my first year spending Thanksgiving at my cousins’ house on Long Island. I’ve decided to bring an appetizer. If I know my family, chances are we will not be eating on time. I figure if I bring something to snack on, I know I won’t starve while waiting for the main event. I’m making this for the first time tomorrow morning, and will post a photo when they’re done.

I’m also doing a dessert. Now, I’m sure they will have plenty of sweets, but I just can’t resist making a pumpkin cheesecake – seasonal and delicious. This has been a hit since I started baking it when I was 15. The one annoying thing about this recipe is the 16 ounces of pumpkin. The small can is 15 ounces, but the big can is too much. I end up buying the large can, then doing something with the leftover. I think in the morning I will make the pumpkin pancake recipe on the label.

Potato Goat Cheese Mini Tarts
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup thinly sliced shallot
¼ cup chopped drained roasted red peppers (from a jar)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
Salt to taste
3 medium red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tablespoons milk
6 ounces goat cheese
30 mini phyllo cups (found in freezer section)

1) Boil potato in salted water until tender, about 15 minutes, then drain, mash with milk, and set aside
2) Heat olive oil in skillet, add shallots and sauté until nearly translucent.
3) Add red peppers to skillet, cook for another 3 minutes.
4) Mix peppers and shallots with potatoes. Add cumin, cilantro, and salt to taste.
5) Fill phyllo cups about 2/3 full with potato mixture.
6) Top each cup with a dollop of cheese.
7) Bake in 350 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 ½ cup Graham cracker crumbs (you can crush these yourself, or just buy a box of crumbs)
½ cup chopped toasted pecans
1/3 cup melted butter

Mix all ingredients together, and press into bottom and sides of 12 inch springform pan. Can't get much easier.

16 oz. cream cheese (get the full fat kind)
1 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ cup Amaretto
4 extra large eggs
16 oz. canned pumpkin

1) Preheat oven to 350.
2) Mix cheese, sugar, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.
3) Add amaretto and eggs.
4) Add pumpkin. Make sure you mix really well, otherwise you may end up with a slightly streaky appearance. It will still taste good, though!
5) Bake about 55 minutes.
6) Cool completely before serving – try for overnight if possible.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Moroccan Roast Chicken

So, here is the Moroccan roasted chicken recipe, as promised. It comes from a book called Moroccan, a Culinary Journey of Discovery, by Ghillie Basan.

I am very happy I did not make this for the first time when I had company, as it took nearly twice as long to cook as the recipe said it would. Instead of going by time, insert a meat thermometer and take out the chicken when it says it has reached the correct internal temperature for poultry.

The recipe says it will feed 4 to 6. I suppose if you had appetizers and a salad and maybe something else you should stretch it to six servings, but I generally don’t recommend trying to serve more than four people with one chicken. If you have hearty eaters, it probably won’t even go that far. However, don’t be afraid of cooking this for one or two people. I made it for just myself. I ate what I wanted the night I made it, then took the meat off the bone and mixed it in with the leftover couscous. A minute in the microwave the next night and dinner was served – perfect! This chicken remained moist and tender even after microwaving.

My modifications:

I did not use an organic chicken. While I would have liked to, my grocery store was selling the organic chickens for about $18 each. I picked up a decent sized Purdue chicken for less than $4. I like to buy organic, but that kind of price difference just isn’t in my budget.

I used a whole orange, cut into thick slices and laid them on top of the chicken. I used the end piece like the recipe said to, but didn’t see the point in not using the rest of it. I guess if you have something else to do with the orange, go for it.

I had sliced almonds in the house, so I used those. The recipe didn’t specify, but showed a picture of whole almonds, so I figured that’s what they wanted. It was fine with the sliced. I wouldn’t use slivered, though. I think they would get lost in the dish. Also, I thought about toasting the almonds, which I think vastly improves nuts in general. Next time I make this couscous, I will do that.

And I didn’t serve it with a green salad, even though it probably would have been perfect, because I was lazy and only cooking for me.

Moroccan roast chicken stuffed with couscous
(Djaj m’ammar bil kesksou)

2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp dried oregano or thyme
1 -2 tsp paprika
2 tbsp butter, softened
1 organic chicken
sliced off end of one orange
2/3 cup chicken stock
green salad, for serving

Couscous stuffing
1 cup couscous
1 cup warm water, with ½ tsp salt dissolved
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp raisins (golden preferred)
¾ cup dried apricots, thickly sliced
2 – 3 tbsp blanched roasted almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. First make the stuffing. Tip the couscous into a bowl and gradually pour in the water, stirring so that it is evenly absorbed. Cover and set the couscous aside to absorb the water. This should take about 10 minutes.

Drizzle the olive oil over the couscous and mix well, getting rid of any lumps. Toss in the remaining stuffing ingredients.

In a small bowl, beat the garlic, oregano and paprika into the butter, then smear all over the chicken, inside and out. Put the chicken in a tagine or ovenproof dish and fill the cavity with as much of the couscous as you can (any leftover couscous can be heated through in the oven before serving and fluffed up with a little extra oil or butter). Seal the cavity with a slice of orange, pour the stock into the dish, and roast in the oven, basting from time to time, for 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on the exact size of the chicken, or until tender and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat.

Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving or cutting into pieces. Strain the cooking juices into a pitcher to pour over the chicken. Serve the chicken with any leftover couscous and a green salad.

~Happy Cooking!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sauteed green beans

Being a stay-at-home mom and housewife I feel like I should cook every day. It's easy to cook the same simple things all over again, but sometimes you want to eat something new. On days like that I raid my cookbooks and the numerous cooking websites out there to find recipes that are good and at the same time pretty easy to make. Sauteed green beans are one of them. They are tasty, fast to make and pretty healthy. The last time I made them I served as a side for a Paprika Spiced Pork Loin. It was really good.

Some tips:
We love to eat vegetables so I had one pound of green beans for two (and a half) people.

Don't add the garlic to early or it will burn before the beans are done.

Sauteed Green Beans:

1 lbs green beans trimmed and washed
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated parmesan cheese

Put the butter and the oil in a big pan and heat over medium until butter is melted. Add the green beans and sautee them until they're done but still al dente. Add the garlic and sautee a little bit longer. Season with salt and pepper.
Put them in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the cheese right before serving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Low-Fat Banana Muffins

Ok, so today it's my turn to put a post on our new blog "Sisters Serve It Up". First of all I want to ask everybody not to be too harsh with me when it comes up to my English skills. I am German and still working on them.

I am always trying to find some good, but also healthy food. So when I had some very ripe bananas left, I looked through my ginormous (is that actually a word?) collection of cookbooks and found an actually pretty good recipe for banana muffins in my "Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites" Cookbook. It's my first recipes out of this book, but I'm gonna try out some more. They all sound pretty good.

Anyways, here's the recipe.

Low-Fat Banana Muffins:

1 cup unbleached white flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup rolled oats
1 egg white
1 egg
2 tablespoons canola or other vegetable oil
1 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 2 bananas)
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 raisins or currants

Preheat oven to 4oo F.
Prepare muffin tin with paper liners, cooking spray, or a very light coating of oil.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Whirl the oats in a blender until they reach the consistency of cornmeal; you should have about 3/4 cup of processed oats. Stir them into the dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat the egg white for 3 minutes until foamy but not stiff. Stir in the egg, oil, mashed bananas, yogurt, and raisins or currants. Fold the wet ingredients into the flour mixture until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the muffin tin and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean and dry. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, loosen each muffin by running a knife around the edge, and then tip out onto a rack to cool completely.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Comfort Food Dinner

Welcome to our blog!  We hope you will have a great time cooking and eating along with us.

Last night I made dinner for myself and my favorite Administrative Law study partner. Since I had a guest, I gave him a choice between a Moroccan roasted chicken or sautéed shrimp over cheddar cheese risotto. He chose the risotto. (Don’t worry – the Moroccan chicken will be made later this week.) I figured a dinner like that needed some greens, and he's been obsessing over Brussels sprouts ever since we went to Dirty Bird for lunch last week ( In fact, he brought over this month's GQ magazine, which had a recipe for them from NYC's own David Chang. I decided to make that, slightly modified, as an accompaniment.

To make this dinner, preparation (or a helpful sous chef) is key. You really can’t do anything else while you stir the risotto.

I recommend prepping the Brussels sprouts and shrimp while your stock for the risotto is heating up. Then once the risotto is going for about 15 minutes, start on the sprouts. When the risotto is almost done, heat a pan with a half tablespoon or so of olive oil. Throw enough peeled, tails-off shrimp for as many as you are feeding into the pan, with a few twists of a pepper mill and salt to taste. Believe me, with all the powerful flavors in the risotto and the Brussels sprouts, the shrimp don’t need any more than that.

Brussels sprouts (serves 2):

½ lb. Brussels sprouts
2 slices thick cut bacon, chopped
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon hot sauce (I used Crystal, since that’s what I always have in the house)

*Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees F.
*Trim the sprouts by cutting off the hard ends, then sliced them in half.
*Put the chopped bacon into a hot oven-safe pan and let it get about halfway done.
*Add the sprouts, cut side down, to the bacon. Let them sit in the pan about 8 minutes or so, then put the whole frying pan into the oven.
*After about 10 minutes, take the pan out of the oven, shake it around, then add the hot sauce and lime juice.
*Put back in the oven for another 10 minutes.

The original Nigella Lawson risotto recipe is reproduced below. Note that she says the risotto will take a mere 20 minutes. On my stovetop, it was more like 40. Also, I didn’t have leeks or scallions, so I substituted a thinly sliced shallot. I also used chicken broth for the vegetable.  Here's the link an npr story, and a couple of her other favorite winter recipes:

Cheddar Cheese Risotto

by Nigella Lawson

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 baby leeks or 2 fat scallions, finely sliced
1-1/2cups risotto rice
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
4 cups hot vegetable stock
1 cup chopped Cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives


1. Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks or scallions until softened.
2. Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.
3. Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir before adding the next one.
4. Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.
5. Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do, and then spoon into warmed dishes, sprinkling with some of the chopped chives.
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter

From 'Nigella Express' by Nigella Lawson. Copyright 2007 Nigella Lawson.

Happy cooking!