Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rice Cookers

I read a great article called "Who needs a rice cooker?" on the Washington Post Newspaper site. Basically it is an essay about the benefits (there are no disadvantages) of owning and using a rice cooker.

If you have never used one you don't know what you are missing. And, if you have used one you are already a devotee.

I own 2 rice cookers. They are both made by Zojirushi. One is a on/off basic model and the other is a fuzzy-logic model with many bells and whistles. They each have their own benefits. I use my rice cooker 5 times a week or more, sometimes more than once a day. I am a gadget junkie, but truthfully unless you want to make porridge or mostly brown rice the low end models are good enough for most people.

Once you start cooking with a rice cooker, you will be able to create your own recipes and know the techniques required to make awesome porridges for breakfast and even to bake a cake. But, until then, try this great cookbook called "The Ultimate Rice Cooker" by Beth Hensperber.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Diane's Menu November 22 - November 28

Diane's Menu November 22 - November 28

Saturday - Moroccan Lamb and Butternut Squash with Couscous **
Sunday - Thai BBQ Chicken, Snow peas saute
Monday - Weekly Pizza Take-out
Tuesday - Pasta and Meatballs
Wednesday - out for dinner and live music
Thursday - THANKSGIVING at my sisters. I am bringing homemade Stuffed Grape Leaves for an Appetizer, Pumpkin Dinner Rolls ** and all the ingredients to make my own Pumpkin Martinis.
Friday - Grilled Shrimp on Spinach Salads


Moroccan Lamb and Butternut Squash with Couscous in slow cooker

2 pounds of lamb (shanks work, boneless leg of lamb works), if using boneless cut into very large chunks.
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 onion sliced thinly
3 dried red chilis or 1 tablespoon dried red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon turmeric
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (depending how spicy you like it)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon ground ginger (depending how spicy you like it)
3 tablespoons honey

1 1/2 pound butternut squash, skinned and seeds removed, cut into large chunks
1 14 ounce can low sodium chicken broth

In a large saute pan, brown lamb in canola oil. (If you have a slow cooker that allows browning, use it.)

Remove lamb from pan. Add onion and chili peppers and stir to coat in oil and allow to soften. Add all of the spices and stir to coat and cover the onion with them. (If you are using a slow cooker that doesn't brown, this is the point where you would pour all of the ingredients into the slow cooker from whatever saute pan you had been using)

Add the honey and stir to mix in. Add the butternut squash and chicken broth. Stir to mix.

Place lamb on top of the mixture. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours.

If using shanks, remove bones, if not just stir it all together and add 1 cup raw couscous. Stir to mix and cover and cook another 15 minutes.

Ready to serve and enjoy!


Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
5 tbsp butter, divided
1 tsp salt
2 pkg (1/4 ounces each) active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (110 to 115 F)
2 to 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup canned pumpkin1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, brown sugar, 4 tablespoons butter, and salt to 110 - 115 F. Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast in a warm water. Stir in the milk mixture. Add 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, wheat flour, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Beat until smooth. Add enough remaining all purpose flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease the top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about one hour. Punch dough down. Divide into 20 pieces. Shape into balls. Place in a greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise for 30 minutes or until doubled. Melt the remaining butter. Brush over the dough. Bake at 375 F. for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the pan to a wire rack.Makes about 20 rolls.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Menu November 15 - November 21

Saturday - Spicy Pot Roast with Carrots and Potatoes (Leftover sliced and frozen in gravy for Friday)
Sunday - Lamb Shanks Saltimbocca with polenta and peas
Monday - Take out Pizza
Tuesday - Caribbean Chicken and Squash**
Wednesday - Jambalaya with Shrimp in Rice Cooker
Thursday - Grilled THICK Boneless Pork Chops, Asparagus and Brown Rice
Friday - Apple Pumpkin Soup **, open faced Pot Roast Sandwiches

** Recipes below


Slow Cooker Caribbean Chicken and Squash

4 chicken thighs, skin removed
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup water or broth
1 tablespoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger root
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional

In a 3 1/2 to 4 quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except chicken. Mix well. Place chicken on top of mixture. Cook on low 8 to 10 hours or until squash is done and chicken juices run clear when pierced. With forks, remove chicken from bones, then cut into pieces. Stir into vegetable mixture. Serve with fresh bread and a green salad.


Apple Pumpkin Soup
(This will make enough for dinner and then I will have a few servings left for lunches.)

2 cups finely chopped peeled tart apples
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 cups chicken broth
3 cups canned pumpkin
1/4 cup packed brown sugar (I will be using Splenda brown sugar)
1/2 teaspoon each ground cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger
1 cup unsweetened apple juice
1/2 cup half-and-half cream (I will use evaporated skim milk)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a large saucepan, saute apples and onion in butter for 3-5 minutes or until tender. Stir in flour until blended. Gradually whisk in broth. Stir in the pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 25 minutes. Cool slightly. In a blender, cover and process soup in batches until smooth. Pour into a bowl; cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight. Just before serving, transfer soup to a saucepan. Cook over medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Stir in the apple juice, cream, salt and pepper; heat through. Yield: 12 servings (about 2 quarts).

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Multi Bean and Pea and Lentil Soup for lunch today

I cook beans once or twice a week in my Pressure Cooker. But this package that I just bought, which was so inexpensive, was all mixed peas/beans/lentils already. Because I bought them in bulk, they had no directions on the package. We tend to avoid pre-packaged seasonings as they are so full of salt.

So here is what I did.

In my QVC MultiCooker:

Sautéed one onion and 2 jalapeno peppers (seeds and all) in 2 tablespoons of canola oil
Added 2 heaping teaspoons cumin and 2 bay leaves and 2 cups of the bean/lentil/pea mixture and stirred it around to coat.
I added enough water to cover it with a few inches extra and set it on high pressure for 25 minutes.
When done I gave it a quick release.
Added 1 large can of tomato paste, 3 tablespoons of the WOW chicken soup from the Ingredient Store, 1 pound kielbasa, 1 pound of carrots.
Back on high pressure for 20 minutes, natural release. Added quite a bit of hot sauce and stirred it in.

DELICIOUS!! We each had two bowls and there is enough left for lunch tomorrow too. The largest beans and the carrots had a bit of a bite, which we like and everything else was creamy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Menu November 8-14

Diane's Menu November 8-14, 2008

Saturday - Shrimp Fra Diablo over Whole Wheat Angel Hair Pasta, Salad
Sunday - Seared Ahi Tuna Steak (rare), Shredded Salad with Lime Vinaigrette
Monday - Steak Salad (for those regular readers, no Pizza night??? LOL)
Tuesday - Lentil Soup, Grilled Vegetable Panini with Goat Cheese
Wednesday - Grilled Turkey Tenderloin and Wild Rice Medley **
Thursday - Spaghetti Squash Salad with Grilled Chicken **
Friday - Red Bean, Barley and Sausage Stew **


Wild Rice Medley

(I will use all fat free cheeses and double the veggies)

1-3/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Pinch dried thyme
3/4 cup uncooked wild rice
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 small onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon Crisco® Pure Olive Oil
6 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 large tomato, diced
1/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

In a saucepan, combine broth and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add rice; cover and simmer for 55-60 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. In a large skillet, saute green pepper, onion and garlic in oil. Add mushrooms; saute until tender. Stir in rice and tomato. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2-qt. baking dish. Cover and bake at 350° for 25 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake, uncovered, 5 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Yield: 8 servings.


Spaghetti Squash Salad

1 spaghetti squash (about 2-1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 cup sugar (Splenda)
1 cup diced celery
1/2 cup chopped sweet red pepper
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Cut squash in half lengthwise; scoop out seeds. Place squash, cut side down, in a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Fill pan with hot water to a depth of 1/2 in. Bake, uncovered, at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until tender. When cool enough to handle, scoop out the squash, separating strands with a fork. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl; add the squash and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve with a slotted spoon as a salad with grilled chicken or as a relish with burgers and hot dogs. Store in the refrigerator. Yield: 8 servings.


Red Bean, Barley & Sausage Stew

1 lb. uncooked red kidney beans
46 oz. can chicken broth
2 c. water
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
1 c. barley
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. thyme

The night before, rinse beans, put in large bowl with water to cover and soak overnight. (I never soak my beans, I pressure cook them in my multi-function pot and then change the function to a slow-cooker and continue.)

In the morning drain and rinse beans. Put all ingredients in a large slow cooker, stir, cover and cook on low for 8 hours. Serves 8

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lunch Today - Brown Rice, bulghur and spicy chicken in the rice cooker

I made up a lunch today that was awesome.

I put 2 rice cooker cups of brown rice and 1 rice cooker cup of bulghur in my rice cooker. I added a 14 ounce can of fat free/low sodium chicken broth. I added 3 cups of water, 2 boneless-skinless chicken breasts cut in bite size pieces, 4 hot cherry peppers chopped up, 1 onion sliced thinly. Mixed with the rice cooker paddle and cooked on brown rice.

When it was done I added a can of sodium free kernal corn with the liquid. Closed the lid and let it sit for 10 more minutes. Then we ate. It was great, spicy and flavorful and very healthy!