Friday, October 31, 2008

Today's Breakfast: Diane's Cranberry Oatmeal

Diane's Cranberry Oatmeal
POINTS® Value: 5
Servings: 4
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Course: breakfast


1 2/3 cup(s) uncooked oatmeal
1 cup(s) cranberries
3 cup(s) fat-free skim milk
2/3 cup(s) Kellogg's Original All-Bran
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup(s) unpacked brown sugar
Cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to taste


Add all ingredients in the rice cooker. Select porridge setting on rice cooker and press cook.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Diane's Menu November 1 - November 7

Diane's Menu November 1 - November 7
Saturday - Mexican Pork Roast w/Vegetables and Roasted Chipotle-Salsa Sauce **
Sunday - Roast Chicken, steamed vegetables (whatever is on sale), Roasted Garlic mashed Faux-tatoes (leftover chicken for Wednesday dinner)
Monday - Weekly Pizza
Tuesday - Grilled Lamb Chops and Orzo with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach **
Wednesday - soft Chicken Tacos
Thursday - Burgers, Cole Slaw
Friday - Slow Cooker Curried Chicken Thighs with Curried Chickpeas and Kale ** (2 recipes, but I do them together)

** Recipes below
Mexican Roast Beef w/Vegetables and Roasted Chipotle-Salsa Sauce
Serving Size : 6

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method
-------- ------------ --------------------------------
Step One: The Roasted Salsa
4 dried chipotle chiles -- (¼ to ½ oz) or 1 (7 oz) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce 1 small head garlic -- unpeeled
6 medium-sized tomatillos -- husked, rinsed, and halved
½ c finely chopped cilantro stems and leaves

Step Two: The Roast
3 pounds boneless pork roast
½ c all purpose flour
1 Tb vegetable oil -- (1 to 2)
2 Spanish onions -- thickly sliced into rings
1 bottle Mexican beer -- (12 oz) (I use apple cider, no beer in cooking in this house)
2 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 medium-size pasilla -- poblanos, or Anaheim chilies, seeded and cut into strips 4 medium-size carrots -- peeled and cut into ½ inch rounds
2 chayote squash (butternut, even the frozen works well here) -- peeled, pitted, and cut into 1 inch cubes
6 medium-size red potatoes -- scrubbed and quartered
2 c frozen corn (canned or off the cob works well too)

Step One Directions:

If using dried chiles, heat a heavy skillet over medium heat (cast iron works best). Cut open the chiles and remove the stems and seeds. Cut the larger chiles in smaller pieces and place them in the hot skillet to toast, pressing flat with a spatula until they darken slightly and release their aromas. Do not over-toast the chiles or they will have a bitter taste. In a small bowl, cover the toasted chiles with boiling water and let them soak for 30 minutes. Drain, and discard the water. While the chiles are soaking, preheat the broiler. Cut off the tip of the garlic head, slicing through the top of the cloves. Place the head of garlic on a plate, cut side up, and cover tightly with microwave-safe plastic wrap. Microwave for about 5 minutes, or until the cloves of garlic have softened. Remove the plate from the microwave. Remove the plastic wrap and let stand until cool enough to handle. Pull the cloves apart and squeeze out the garlic. Roast the tomatillos on a baking sheet 4 inches below the broiler until blackened on one side, about 5 minutes. Use long-handled tongs to turn and roast the other side. Put the tomatillos and any juice, the chiles, garlic, and cilantro into a food processor or blender and process to a fine-textured puree.

Step Two Directions:

Dry the meat on paper towels and dredge in the flour. Heat the oil in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat. Add the meat, cook until well browned on all sides, and set aside. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they are deeply browned and well caramelized, about 8 minutes. Deglaze the cooker with the beer, scraping up all the browned bits. Stir in the salsa mixture, cumin, salt, and pepper. Return the roast to the cooker and cook for 35 minutes on high. Use natural release, turn the meat over and add the chiles, carrots, chayotes, potatoes, and corn, stir to mix well. Cook for 5 minutes more on high. Use the quick release method and transfer the meat and vegetables to a platter. Skim any excess fat from the surface of the sauce, adjust seasoning to taste. Pour the sauce into a bowl and serve with the meat and vegetables.

Serves 6

Orzo Sun Dried Tomatoes and Spinach in Rice Cooker

1 cup orzo pasta
1 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons diced sun-dried tomato in oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped (or one box frozen spinach, you can put it in the rice cooker frozen!)

Place all ingredients in the cooker and flip down the lever to cook.

Serves 4



8-9 chicken thighs ,skin and fat removed
4 tbsp butter
1/2 c honey
1/4 c prepared mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder (I use much more, we like spicy)

1.Melt butter then add the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT chicken.
2.Roll chicken in sauce and put in greased slow cooker.
3.Pour remaining sauce over chicken.
4.Cook on high 4 hours.

Number of Servings: 4


Slow Cooker Curried Chickpeas and Kale

2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onions
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
3 cups chopped kale or 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach
1 1/2 tbs. curry powder
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
3 cups cooked chickpeas (canned is fine)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste

Just throw it all together in the slow cooker and let it cook on low 7 to 8 hours, or on high for 4 hours.

Diane's Menu October 25 - Oct 31

Diane's Menu October 25 - October 31

Saturday - Pulled Pork on Brown Rice, steamed broccoli and salad
Sunday - Buffalo Wings, Bruschetta
Monday - Weekly Pizza
Tuesday - Whole wheat penne and broccoli
Wednesday - 3 Cheese and Salsa Pasta with Turkey Meatballs
Thursday - Burgers, Cole Slaw
Friday - out at a new Italian place for us before live music

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Cuts of Beef

I found this great picture to help identify cuts of beef.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Diane's Menu October 18 - October 24

Diane's Menu October 18 - October 24
Saturday - BBQ ribs and soba noodles in the Rice Cooker
Sunday - Bulgur Pilaf with Moroccan Roast Chicken **
Monday - Weekly take out pizza
Tueday - Diane's 30 Minute Coq au Vin **
Wednesday - Roasted Garlic and Asparagus Risotto in Rice Cooker
Thursday - Curried Chicken Salad (with roast chicken leftover from Sunday)**
Friday - Ginger Pumpkin Bisque ** and Ham Sandwiches

** Recipes included below.


Bulgur Pilaf with Moroccan Roast Chicken


For the Chicken:

One 4-pound chicken, rinsed and patted dry
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 cup (tightly packed) pitted prunes, quartered
6 thin slices lemon, pitted, plus more for garnish
2 Tbsp. butter, melted (optional)

For the Bulgur Pilaf:

Generous pinch of saffron threads
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup finely diced shallots or onion1
1/2 cups coarse bulgur
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint


Set a rack in the center and preheat the oven to 350° F.
Season the chicken well, inside and out, with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, blend the oil with the ginger, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cardamom, and cayenne.
Starting at the neck opening, gently press your hand between the skin and the flesh all over the chicken to loosen the skin. Rub half of the spice oil into the flesh under the skin.

Toss the prunes and lemon slices in the remaining spice oil. Stuff these into the cavity of the chicken. Secure the opening with skewers or toothpicks. For a very crisp skin, brush the chicken with the melted butter.

Set the chicken on a roasting rack in a roasting pan and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted where the thigh meets the leg registers 165°F, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Remove from the oven, and let rest for 10 minutes before carving.

After the chicken has been roasting for about 35 minutes, begin preparing the bulgur pilaf; in a small bowl, stir the saffron into 1 tablespoon of warm water. Set aside.

Melt the butter in a heavy 2-quart saucepan. Add the shallots and cook over medium-high heat until they soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the bulgur and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the bulgur emits a faint toasted aroma, about 3 minutes. Add 3 1/4 cups of water plus the saffron and its soaking water. Bring to a boil. Stir in the salt. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until the bulgur is tender, 20 to 25 minutes. If all of the water has been absorbed and the bulgur is not done, stir in 1/4 cup hot water and cook over a very low heat for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat, and let the bulgur steam for 10 minutes or until the chicken is done. To serve: Remove the stuffing from the chicken. Discard the lemon slices. Stir the prunes, almonds, and mint into the bulgur. Add salt to taste. If you wish, skim the fat from the chicken pan juices and stir them in.

Carve the chicken and serve each portion with a large spoonful of the bulgur pilaf.
From "Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way" by Lorna Sass


Diane's 30 Minute Coq Au Vin

3 boneless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
4 ounces pancetta, diced (I find it dices easier when it is partially frozen)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup red wine
3/4 cup boiling water
1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1 medium onion, in large dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-4 ounces unsalted butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
Freshly ground pepper

Empty can of mushroom soup into a bowl. In the can place the dried porcini mushrooms crushed up in smaller pieces. Pour boiling water into the can to the halfway point and let sit to cool.In skillet (preferably NOT non-stick), melt 2 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add oil and onion and pancetta. Cook slowly, do not let onion color. Raise heat and add chicken and garlic and cook until all pinkness of chicken is gone and some browning has occurred. Remove chicken from pan. Add red wine and scrape up bits. Return chicken to the pan.Mix the cooled porcini mushroom mixture with the bowl of cream of mushroom soup. Pour over the chicken in the pan. Bring to a slow simmer stirring occasionally to mix all ingredients. Add the other 2 tablespoons of butter and let melt and blend in.Serve over rice or noodles. Garnish with parsley.


Curried Chicken Salad

3 cups diced cooked chicken
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 can (8 ounces) water chestnuts, drained
1 medium apple, diced
3/4 cup halved green grapes
3/4 cup pineapple tidbits, juice drained and reserved
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup slivered almonds


1-1/4 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon vinegar
1/4 teaspoon lemon or lime juice
1 to 3 teaspoons curry powder

In a large bowl, combine first eight ingredients. Blend all dressing ingredients and toss with chicken mixture. Chill several hours. Yield: 8 servings.

Ginger Pumpkin Bisque
(from the Marsh Tavern, Manchester, Vermont as published in Yankee Magazine)

3/4 cup of chopped shallots AND1/2 cup chopped onions
OR1 large onion chopped
2 tsp. of grated gingeroot OR 2 tsp. ground ginger
2 Tbsp. oil
1/4 cup flour
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider
1 16 oz. can pumpkin (in a pinch substitute squash)
1/3 cup maple syrup (the REAL stuff...don't skimp!!!)
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. dried thyme, crushed
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup whipping or heavy cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla(nutmeg for garnish)

In a 3-quart saucepan cook shallots, onions, and gingerroot/ground ginger in hot oil over medium heat till tender but not brown. Stir in flour. Add chicken broth and cider all at once. Cook and stir> over medium heat till thickened and bubbly. Sitr in pumpkin, maple syrup, bay leaves, cinnamon, thyme, pepper and cloves. Return to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Discard bay leaves. Cool slightly. In a food processor or blender container cover and blend mixture in 3 or 4 batches. Return the soup to the saucepan. Stir in the 1 cup of cream and vanilla. Heat through but do not boil!!!! If desired, swirl cream into each servin and garnish with sprinkled nutmeg OR a sprig of fresh thyme.

Makes approx. 8 cups or 8 to 10 appetizer servings.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Here are some of my favorite combinations for Paninis:

  • grilled Veggies (especially eggplant, red peppers, zucchini and onions) with goat cheese
  • ham and cheese
  • salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese and a tomato paste spread. Season with oregano and garlic and you will swear you are eating a pizza.
  • roast beef, cheddar cheese, horseradish
  • hamburger, cheese, bacon, ketchup
  • corned beef or pastrami, sauekraut, swiss cheese, thousand island dressing
  • meatballs slice, mozeralla cheese, marinara sauce
  • tuna salad, swiss cheese

More to come!

Bulgar for Breakfast?

This morning I have a big pot of bulgar cooking in my rice cooker.

I put the rice cooker on brown and added 1 tablespoon of butter. I cut up 2 large apples into it. Then I added lots of cinnamon and ginger and a bit of nutmeg. Then 2 rice cooker cups of bulgar and 1 1/2 cups of evaporated skim milk and 3 1/2 cups of water. I also added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.

I set it on the porridge setting and it is cooking away now. SMELLS AWESOME!!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

TODAYS GRIPE! Slow Cookers and Good Quality Meats

OK, so I am going to spend this post ranting my opinions. It's my blog after all!

I love my slow cooker. I use it 2-3 times a week, sometimes even more. It makes soups and stews and flavorful combinations that meld spices and inexpensive pieces of meats to make lusciously comforting meals.

I don't understand why someone would spend $7.99 (or more) per pound on a pork tenderloin and then cook it in a slow cooker. (Crock-pot) A pork tenderloin has almost no fat. It is an expensive piece of meat that begs to be quickly grilled or roasted. It is a piece of meat that will dry out by just looking at it. It is a piece of meat that will be tasty when cooked to an internal temperature of 150° but will taste like straw when cooked to more than 165°. Why would you waste such a piece of meat in a slow cooker??

I cook pork in my slow cooker often. I use pork legs, shoulders and butts. The pork is tender and delicious when done and never dry. It ranges in price from sometimes less than $1 a pound if bought in bulk on sale to no more than $2 per pound. Yes, the pieces are usually too big for one meal but how wonderful it is to have meals of pulled pork or pork fried rice or pork and beans already cooked in the freezer for busy nights.

So, if you want to save money and improve the results in your slow-cooker, don't use expensive lean cuts of meat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Bulgar and Turkey Experiment for Dinner

Today I am going to play with my rice cooker.

I have a brand new bag of bulgar and some turkey cutlets that are defrosted. I also made some homemade peach chutney last week and I think I will spice up the broth for the bulgar with curry and onions and then serve the whole thing with peas and the peach chutney.

I will let you all know how it turns out.

Oh, by the way, I was looking for a liquid ratio information for bulgar in the rice cooker and ran across a great blog for Turkish cooking. Check it out!

For more recipes about grains check out my YAHOO! grain group!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Diane's Menu October 11 - 16

Diane's Menu October 11 - 16

Saturday - out to a new place for BBQ (see review on previous blog post)
Sunday - left over from BBQ dinner out (portions at this place were HUGE and we are big eaters.)
Monday - weekly take out pizza
Tuesday - hamburgers on home made sourdough whole grain bread, steamed string beans
Wednesday - grilled turkey cutlets with Peach Chutney over greens
Thursday - pasta and meatballs
Friday - spicy lentil stew with smoked sausages

New BBQ restaurant in nearby town

We had dinner at a new place on Saturday night. At least it was new to us. It is called 28 BBQ and is located on route 28 in Bound Brook, NJ.

What a great find this place is. It is located on the main street in town on a corner. It is small and like sitting in a friend's kitchen. It was rather hot in the restaurant and we sat at clean wooden tables. There was a big family seated near us and there were only about 5 other tables.

We were greeted by three different waitresses and each was eager to help us. The sights of all that meat on the rotisserie made our mouths watered as we looked at the menu. The menu is mainly pork, beef and chicken done on the rotisserie. There is also fish and varied appetizers and sides. The value for the money is incredible. The prices are pretty typical until one sees the servings. We are big eaters, and even so, brought home half of our dinners for a future dinner at home.

We each ordered the combination of chicken and pork spare ribs. It came with yellow rice and a choice of sides. I had the salad and my husband had the black beans. We could have also chosen fries. The chicken was succulent and so tasty, even the white meat. The flavor of the light BBQ sauce that is used all through the rotisserie time was defined but light enough to let the flavor of the perfectly cooked chicken through. The ribs were a delight. Unlike the heavy sugar coated sauces of most places, the same light sauce was used when cooking and it let the impeccably cooked meat shine through. The rice which is usually just and after thought at most places was cooked so that each grain was flavorful and didn't stick together. The black beans were seasoned well.

There is no bar and the sodas are bottled from a cooler. We didn't ask, but it's possible that you could bring your own. They do have desserts that looked incredible, but we were far too satiated to try any.

The place does an incredible take out business. They package the food so well that it stays fresh.

They have a website and a blog.

We are looking forward to eating this food again.