Sunday, July 23, 2006

Peppered Tuna

This is about as quick a meal as you can make. It is, however, a bit tricky to get the fish cooked just right...done all the way through without being overdone.

Peppered Tuna
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

4 tuna steaks or other firm, meaty steaks, approximately 3/4 inch thick (6-8 oz each)
Coarsely ground black pepper
Kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons minced or chopped garlic
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Juice from 1 orange

Liberally cover the tuna steaks on both sides with pepper and salt, pressing into flesh. In a large, heavy skillet, heat oil over high heat until shimmering. Add tuna steaks and sear for 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Remove tuna from skillet, reduce heat to low, and add wine, garlic, vinegar and orange juice, scraping to loosen browned bits. Cook until mixture is thick and syrupy, 3 to 4 minutes. Return tuna to skillet and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, turning once.

From “The Saltwater Cookbook: Fish and Seafood from Ocean to Table,” by Tim Lauer. 2004 Creative Publishing.

For The Lancaster News

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fiery Cajun Shrimp

Cajun Shrimp
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

This is a dish you just don't get over. Once you have it, you just have to have it again. But I don't use all this butter every time.

2 cups (4 sticks) melted butter
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons ground pepper
2 tablespoons hot sauce (recommended: Texas Pete)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
5 pounds unpeeled medium shrimp
2 lemons, sliced thinly
French bread for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Stir together the butter, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, pepper, hot sauce, garlic, and salt. Pour half this mixture into a large heatproof dish (9 x 13). Layer half the shrimp and half the lemon slices in the dish; then form a second layer with the remaining shrimp and lemon slices, and pour remaining sauce into the dish. Bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the shrimp are pink, stirring twice. Pour off the sauce into individual serving dishes. Serve the shrimp with plenty of French bread for dipping in the spicy butter sauce.
Note: This recipe can be easily halved or even quartered. Alternatively, use peeled shrimp and then toss it all with pasta for a main course.

This is a Paula Deen recipe.

For The Lancaster News

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Apricot Pineapple Gelatin Salad

I'm not really a big jello fan, but Mom did this for the Easter feature I did for the paper. It wasn't too bad, but I think I'd not put in chunks of cream cheese.

Apricot Gelatin Salad
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1 small box apricot gelatin
1 cup hot water
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup crushed pineapple, well-drained
4 oz cream cheese (optional), cut into a small dice
1/2 cup pecan pieces
9 canned apricot halves
Salad dressing, such as Miracle Whip, for garnish

Dissolve the gelatin in the hot water. Add the cream. Do not whip. Stir in pineapple, cream cheese and pecans. Pour into an 8-inch square casserole dish. Arrange apricot halves in the gelatin, so that each serving has one piece of fruit. Cover and refrigerate until set, 2 hours to overnight.
To serve: Cut into 9 pieces, place each piece on a plate and dollop with a 1/2 teaspoon of salad dressing. Add more pecan halves or fruit for presentation.
Cooks note: This is also delicious with orange gelatin and/or mandarin oranges.
Recipe courtesy Mary Goetsch, mother of “No Food Left Behind.”

For The Lancaster News

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Hot Cross Buns

Yeah, I know this is a traditional Easter dish. And I wrote about these in my Easter feature for the paper. But I'm still trying to catch up with posting the recipes from the paper. These are really good any time of the year. They are a nice, sweet breakfast roll, but not so sweet that you go into sugar shock.

Hot Cross Buns
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

3 1/2 to 4 cups all-purpose or bread flour
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
2/3 cup raisins
1 slightly beaten egg white

In a large mixing bowl combine 2 cups of the flour, yeast and cinnamon. Heat milk, oil, sugar, and 3/4 teaspoon salt until warm (115-120 degrees). Add to dry mixture; add eggs. Beat at low speed with electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping the bowl. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.
By hand, stir in raisins and enough remaining flour to make a soft dough. Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl; turning once. Cover; let rise until double (about 1 1/2 hours). Punch down. Cover; let rest 10 minutes.
Divide into 18 pieces; form the pieces into smooth balls. Place on a greased baking sheet 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover; let rise until double (30-45 minutes).
Cut shallow crosses in each; brush tops with egg white. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from sheet. Decorate with frosting crosses.

For The Lancaster News

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup shortening
2/3 cup buttermilk or sour milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, salt, and baking soda. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Make a well in the center of the dry mixture, then add buttermilk all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface. Quickly knead the dough by gently folding and pressing the dough for 10-12 strokes or until it is nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut dough with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, dipping the cutter into flour between cuts.
Place the biscuits on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until they are golden brown and delicious.
Makes 8-10 bisuits.

For The Lancaster News

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bean Soup

Bean Soup
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1 package 16-Bean Soup Beans
2 small onions, chopped
1 small or large can diced tomatoes
1 package Polska Kielbasa or other sausage

The night before, wash the beans and check for foreign material, such as small rocks. Soak them in 4 quarts of water in a bowl overnight. Reserve the seasoning packet from the bean package.
The next morning, drain the water from the beans. Place them in the slow cooker with the seasoning packet, onions and tomatoes. Add water until the cooker is almost full, leaving about 1-1/2 inches of space on the top.
Cook the beans on LOW for 8 to 10 hours, or on HIGH for 1 hour and then LOW for 6 to 8 hours.
About 30 minutes before serving, slice the sausage into bite-sized slices. Brown the sausage in a skillet and then add the slices to the slow cooker.
Serve with cornbread.

For The Lancaster News

Monday, June 26, 2006

Asparagus Fontina Tart

Asparagus Fontina Tart
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1 1/2 bundles fresh asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off
3 large egg whites
1 large egg
3 tablespoons milk
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
16 sheets frozen phyllo dough, thawed
Cooking spray
1 cup shredded fontina cheese, divided
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together egg, egg whites, milk and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray. Place 1 phyllo sheet on the pan and lightly coat it with cooking spray. Repeat the layers of phyllo dough, spraying each layer. Gently press the sheets of dough together.
Fold the edges of the phyllo dough in to make a narrow crust, about 1/2 inch. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese evenly onto the dough. Arrange the asparagus spears next to each other on top. Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus. Some may leak out. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the tart.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes. Check to see if the dough is browning and the cheese is melting. Check every 2 or 3 minutes until the top looks the way you want it.
Cut into slices and serve. Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine.

For The Lancaster News

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Asian BBQ Pork

Not really the best photo, but this is a super-fantastic pulled pork recipe. The Cooking Light recipe had 5 spice powder, which I don't keep around. I can make your own 5 spice powder from all the little jars in your spice rack. Why waste money having it already pre-mixed? Anyway...the pork...this stuff just gets better and better with each passing day.

Asian BBQ Pork
Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.

1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 Tablespoons ketchup
3 Tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons minced ginger root
3 cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed
1/2 cup chicken stock or water

Whisk together all the marinade ingredients. Place the roast in a zip-top bag and pour the marinade over it. Squeeze out excess air and close tightly. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours to overnight, turning occasionally.

Place the roast and the marinade into a slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for 8 hours.

Remove the roast from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon. Cover it and let it rest for about 10 minutes. In the meantime, turn the slow cooker to HIGH and the stock or water to the meat drippings. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, allowing the sauce to thicken. Shred the pork and serve with the sauce.

Adapted from “Cooking Light Magazine,” March, 2006
*note: Hoisin sauce and dark sesame oil can be found in the Asian food section of your supermarket.

For The Lancaster News

Friday, June 23, 2006

Black & White Chocolate Cake

This was one of the recipes for a food feature about buttermilk. Buttermilk lends a fantastic texture and taste to baked goods. I don't know why we don't use it as much anymore. Anyway, I like this cake recipe because it makes a good, fairly impressive cake to take to a family or church picnic. The layers make people think you are really talented. But it's not that hard...the bottom layer is thick enough from adding the cocoa that it's not really that much of a challenge to spread the yellow layer over top.

1 package vanilla cake mix
1 1/4 cups buttermilk or sour milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
4 eggs at room temperature
1 cup white chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with non-stick foil or grease liberally with butter.

In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, buttermilk, softened butter, and eggs. Beat on low speed only until combined. Some small lumps may remain. Pour half of the cake batter into a separate bowl and set aside.
To one half of the cake batter, fold in 1/2 cup white chocolate chips, reserving the remaining 1/2 cup for later use.
To the other half of the cake batter, add the cocoa powder, mixing until combined. Fold in 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, reserving the remaining 1 cup for later use.
Pour the dark chocolate batter into the prepared pan and smooth to even it out.
Carefully spoon the vanilla cake batter on top of the dark chocolate layer. Gently spread to an even layer without disturbing the bottom layer.
Bake 35 to 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle the top of the cake with the reserved 1 cup of semi-sweet chips. Wait 5 minutes, then use a spatula to spread the melted chocolate on the top as a frosting. Let the cake cool to room temperature. Sprinkle the reserved 1/2 cup of white chips on top and gently press them into the frosting.

For The Lancaster News

Monday, June 12, 2006

Layered Salad

Layered Salad
Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.

6 cups torn lettuce
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/4 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper(any color), thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, sliced on the diagonal
3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons real bacon bits (like Hormel)

6 tablespoons lowfat mayonnaise
2 tablespoons plain, nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoons sugar

Layer the lettuce, peas, onion, bell pepper and celery in an attractive manner in a clear bowl.
Combine dressing ingredients and spread over the top of the salad. Cover, refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Prior to serving, sprinkle parmesan and bacon bits over the top.

Adapted from a recipe in “Empty Nest Cooking” by Family and Community Leaders of York County. Thanks to Denise Murphy of Indian Land for sharing it.

For The Lancaster News

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Salty Fruity Summer Snack

Salty Fruity Summer Snack
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1 3/4 cup dried fruit bits
1 cup M&M® chocolate candies
1 cup dry roasted, salted peanuts
3 cups Crispix® cereal
3 cups pretzel twists

Combine all ingredients. Store in an airtight container.

Suggested serving size: 1/2 cup.
306 calories, 7 g fat (19.5% calories from fat), 56 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber.

Recipe courtesy No Food Left Behind
For The Lancaster News

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Strawberry Sauce

This sauce is so easy it's almost a crime. I'll try it with peaches, too.

Strawberry Sauce
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
3 Tablespoons butter or margarine
2 cups strawberries, halved

In a medium skillet, combine the sugar, water and lemon juice. Heat on medium, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved. Add the butter. Stir well until melted. Mix in the strawberries. Heat through, but do not cook.

For The Lancaster News

Friday, June 09, 2006

Ham Snowpeas Teriyaki Salad

This is one of my favorite summer salads. It works for the kids too, because it has deli ham in it. My kids will eat big salads for supper but they always feel a little ripped off if there is no meat for supper.

Ham, Snowpeas & Teriyaki Salad
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic. Salad
6 cups torn salad greens
1/2 lb deli ham or other meat, thinly sliced and cut into strips
1-2 cups snow pea pods
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup chow mein noodles

2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Trim the ends and strings from the snow peas. Blanch them by placing them in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with ice water.
Place the salad greens on a serving platter. Top with deli meat, snow peas, bell pepper and green onions. Drizzle the salad dressing over the salad. Top with chow mein noodles.

Note: Kids may not care for teriyaki dressing. For them, serve the salad undressed, with dressing choices and noodles on the side.
Adapted from Pillsbury’s “Fast and Health Magazine,” July/August 1997

For The Lancaster News

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Citrus Vinaigrette

This dressing is truly my own. I like vinaigrettes but not usually the bottled varieties. For a feature on spring salads I decided to try to find an orange vinaigrette recipe to offset the Green Goddess dressing I planned to include. I found one on, but it just really lacked "zip." So I added some Dijon mustard. Well of course then it needed a little more of this and a little more of that...and before I knew it, I'd changed every ingredient.

Citrus Vinaigrette
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1/2 cup orange juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced scallions
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons canola oil, or light olive oil (do not use extra-virgin olive oil)
Freshly-ground black pepper
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients in a jar and shake thoroughly. Keep refrigerated.

Karen Paulson for No Food Left Behind

For The Lancaster News

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Strawberry Pie

Strawberry season is nearly over here in the Carolinas. We are ready to start focusing on peaches. But I know in Minnesota strawberries are probably just starting to ramp up.

Strawberry Pie
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

2 (9-inch) unbaked pie crusts
1 cup white sugar (or slightly less)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
5 Tablespoons cornstarch
4 cups fresh strawberries, cut into chunks
2 Tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with one crust. Mix together the sugar, flour and cornstarch. Add the mixture to the strawberries, stirring gently but thoroughly. Pour the filling into the pastry-lined pan and dot with butter pieces.
Cover with the second pie crust. Seal the edges and cut slits in the top.
Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until the crust is slightly browned.

Recipe courtesy Don McCorkle

For The Lancaster News

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Yes, it has anchovies in it. But you really don't know that is what you are tasting. I kept this in the refrigerator for about a week with good results. It was great with pretzels dipped in it, too.

1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup minced scallions
1/4 cup minced parsley
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
3 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Stir all the ingredients together in a small bowl until well blended. Taste and adjust seasonings. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.

From the “All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking,” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker.

For The Lancaster News

Monday, June 05, 2006

Peanut Butter Trail Mix Bars

I included this recipe in a feature I did for the paper about summer snacks. They are very good, but rather high in calories for the size bar you get. So I'm pretty certain the kids were consuming almost 500 calories a day in these things as they ate 3 or 4 of them at a time.

3 cups crispy rice cereal
3 cups toasted oat cereal
1 1/2 cups raisins
1/2 cup sunflower seeds, roasted
1 cup honey
3/4 cup granulated sugar
16 ounces natural peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine cereal, raisins, sunflower nuts and chocolate chips in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine honey and sugar. Heat over medium, stirring constantly, until it starts to boil. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Stir in peanut butter and vanilla, mixing until the peanut butter is completely melted.
Add the peanut butter mixture to the dry ingredients in the bowl. Stir gently until well-mixed.
Press into a greased 15x10 baking pan. Allow to cool completely. Cut into 1 1/2 inch bars.
Makes 60 bars
119 calories, 5 g fat (40% calories from fat), 16 g carbohydrates, 1 g dietary fiber.
Recipe from Smuckers® All Natural Peanut Butter

For The Lancaster News

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Swiss Chard Pies

Swiss Chard Pies
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

I love these pies because they are like quiche but not as "quiche-y." No heavy cream, not nearly as many eggs and they taste more like the green than the egg. I like to freeze one for later, but a lot of times we'll eat all of one and part of the second. The pies in this photo are such different colors from each other because I used cheddar in the one in front and swiss in the back one. Any kind of cheese and pretty much any kind of green works well.

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons oil
1 bunch swiss chard, or other greens
6 eggs
1 cup shredded cheese
1 teaspoon salt
couple of grates of fresh nutmeg
2 pie crusts

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown onion and garlic in oil. Trim and chop chard, add to pan and cook down until wilted. Beat eggs in a bowl; mix in cheese, salt and chard mixture. Pour into pie shells and bake 30-40 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

From "From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Farm-Fresh, Seasonal Produce," by the Madison Area CSA Coalition.

Peach Soup

I will admit to you right here that, even though this is fantastic stuff, I was the only member of my family to eat it. To be honest, I have a sneaking suspicion that if I'd poured it into glasses and called it smoothies, they all would have been on board. I may just try that.

Peach Soup
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

2 to 3 large peaches, peeled and chopped
1 cup apple cider
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 ounces vanilla yogurt
1/2 pint fresh blueberries
optional: mint leaves, peach sorbet or peach slices

Combine the peaches, cider, honey, lemon juice, and nutmeg in the bowl of an electric blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Fold in the yogurt, cover and chill for at least 2 hours.
Before serving, stir in the blueberries and ladle the soup into bowls. Garnish with mint leaves, a couple fresh slices of peaches or a small scoop of peach sorbet.

Recipe from “The Healthy Plate”, June 2005

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Roasted Root Vegetables

This photo is from Thanksgiving of last year. The only vegetables I roasted that day were carrots and brussel sprouts. But I do roast all manner of veggies ... particularly roots. In the winter I do them in the oven, but all summer I roast on the grill in foil packets. Very easy cleanup!

Brussel Sprouts
Olive Oil
Kosher Salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Clean and cut the vegetables so that they are fairly uniform in size. Place them in a colander. Drizzle them with olive oil and toss until coated.
Spread the vegetables on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
Roast, turning every 10 minutes, until vegetables start to turn dark and caramelize, approximately 30 minutes.

Note: Vegetables can be roasted at any temperature, adjusting the roasting time. If you are not sure how long they will take, start them early. When they appear to be about done, pull them out of the oven and let them rest. Pop them back in for 5 minutes or so just before serving.

For The Lancaster News

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Lean Pulled Pork from a Pressure Cooker

My friend Mary Ann told me she likes to make pulled pork barbeque in her pressure cooker. Using a pork tenderloin instead of a Boston Butt. The real key to success for this is that the moist cooking in the pressure cooker really counteracts the lack of fat in the tenderloin. I loved this because I knew it was lean and yet it had just as much moisture as the regular pulled pork with all that fat from the butt.

Pulled Pork
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

2 lb. pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup water

In a 6-quart pressure cooker, brown the pork tenderloin in the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until softened. Add the remaining ingredients and mix to combine. Bring to a boil, cover the pressure cooker and bring to pressure. Cook for 45 minutes at 15 psi. Release the pressure and, using two forks, pull the pork into shreds. Toss the shredded pork in the pan drippings, if desired. Serve hot on rolls.

Adapted from “Speedy Pulled Pork” by Ronda L. Carnicelli at

For The Lancaster News

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Every year around the time of my birthday (August), my mom makes moussaka. I've never made it myself. Too much work. But it's probably one of my all-time favorite foods. It's not really that difficult. It's just time-consuming. We have it in August because the eggplant is plentiful and the tomatoes are at their peak (In Minnesota, anyway. In South Carolina they are pretty much done by my birthday). There are no tomatoes in moussaka, but when you eat it, you pretty much need to alternates bites of moussaka with bites of freshly-sliced tomatoes.

This is a putzy dish. And hot. There's lots of cooking in a hot kitchen during the hottest time of the year. But I guess when you are making it for your daughter because it's her birthday and it's her favorite food, you do it. Because you are a mom.

Thanks Mom!

Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.

Meat Sauce
1 1/2 lb ground beef
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon ketchup, diluted with 1 cup water
salt & pepper
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
2 egg whites (save yolks for béchamel sauce)
Brown the hamburger in a large skillet. Drain and rinse the hamburger with warm water. Return to skillet and add butter and onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent. Add wine and diluted ketchup, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook over low heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Add the breadcrumbs and the parmesan. Allow the mixture to cool completely and then stir in the egg whites.

2-3 eggplants

Preheat broiler.
Peel and slice eggplants the long way. Keep the slices fairly uniform in thickness, approximately 1/2 inch thick. Soak the eggplant slices in salted water for 10-15 minutes (this step can be skipped if you are using eggplants that are not as bitter –see cook’s notes at bottom of this recipe).
Drain the eggplant slices and pat them dry with paper towels. Brush them with olive oil, or spray them with cooking spray. Lay the slices in a single layer on cookie sheets that have been sprayed with cooking spray, or on silicone cooking mats.
Place the eggplant slices under the broiler. Do Not Walk Away! Watch them as they turn golden brown under the broiler. Pull them out and turn them over. Brown the other side. Remove and hold at room temperature.

Béchamel Sauce
3 Tablespoons butter
4 Tablespoons flour
3 cups milk, scalded
dash nutmeg
2 egg yolks (from the hamburger sauce recipe)
In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Add the flour and cook, stirring, until smooth. Gradually add the milk. Cook until fairly thick. Add the dash of nutmeg (take care that the nutmeg does not overpower the sauce). Cool to room temperature. Add egg yolks, one at a time.

Assembling the Moussaka
Hamburger sauce
Béchamel sauce
Eggplant slices
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 350.
Moussaka is essentially put together like lasagna. The eggplant slices take the place of the lasagna noodles, and the béchamel sauce is used instead of a tomato sauce.
Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. Coat the bottom with 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs.
Begin building the moussaka by placing 1/2 of the eggplant slices, overlapping if necessary, to cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the parmesan. Cover with 1/2 of the hamburger mixture. Spread 1/2 of the béchamel sauce on top. Layer the remaining eggplant on top, cover with the remaining hamburger mixture and spread on the remaining béchamel sauce. Finish by sprinkling the rest of the parmesan cheese on top.
Bake for about 45 minutes, until heated through (165 degrees) and golden brown on top. Serve with tomato slices
Serves 8-10

For The Lancaster News

Saturday, April 01, 2006

St. Pat's Party Place Setting

We had a St. Pat's party with a friend's Home Ec class a few weeks ago. Of course we explained the whole St. Pat's thing and how it's really more of an American holiday now. The Irish don't really do anything more for St. Pat's than for any other feast day.
But the traditional dishes we eat on that day are great for teaching students about stewing and braising and other food prep techniques.
They really enjoyed the cooking and all ate the food, even though none of them had had lamb or corned beef before. Here is the recipe for the Irish Stew with Lamb:
Irish Stew
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 lbs. boneless lamb stew meat, cut into 1 inch cubes, or 3 lbs. lamb shoulder chops
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or ¾ teaspoons dried thyme
6 medium potatoes, peeled & slice 2 of them, halve the other 4*
3 cups chicken stock
½ tsp. Worcestershire sauce
8 medium carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into ½ inch slices
¼ cup pearl barley
¼ cup heavy cream

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat butter and onions in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Stir in the meat, thyme and salt and pepper. Add potatoes, chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce. Salt and pepper liberally.
Cover tightly and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and add carrots, barley and heavy cream. Stir well to incorporate.
Cover and return to oven. Bake until the meat is fork-tender and barley is softened, 45 – 60 minutes more. Adjust the seasonings. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.
*The potatoes are cut two different ways so that the sliced ones will break down and thicken the stew. The halved potatoes will remain intact for eating.

From “The All New, All Purpose Joy of Cooking,” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker. Scribner. 1997.

For The Lancaster News

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The Story Behind No Food Left Behind

Boys and Girls Cookbook
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

I got started cooking the way most people did. I watched my mom. When I was about 9 or 10, I had a Girl Scout project assignment to cook an entire meal for my family. My mom and I sat down and decided on meatloaf and mashed potatoes. I can’t say for sure what recipe I used, but I’m willing to bet that it was the recipe from “Betty Crocker’s New Boys and Girls Cookbook.” I still have that cookbook. Most of the pages are falling out of it and the meat loaf page is very stained and worn.

The first few pages of the cookbook have all kinds of hints for preparing and eating a meal. That’s right … there is even a page covering “Setting the Table,” “Fun at Dinnertime” and “Good Manners at Mealtime.” Re-reading that page, I see that I follow a lot of their suggestions still today. We set the table and take care that it is set correctly, and we stress good manners at the table, unless it’s “elbows on the table night,” which we have sometimes.

When I was growing up, we moved around a bit. My Dad was in the Air Force, and we always lived quite far from my parents’ home state of Iowa. My Mom was the one in who family that kept us from going nuts with all the moving. Each time we moved, she treated it as a new adventure … another chance to learn about the customs and culture of our new location. One of the main ways she did that was through food. When my family and I moved to Indian Land from Minneapolis in 2002, our new friends would sometimes say “bet you don’t get too many grits up there in yankeeland, do you?” Well, the fact of the matter is, a frequent guest at our Saturday morning breakfasts at home was grits. My Dad would cook them up with fried eggs and bacon. I also ate red beans and rice a lot growing up. Along with moussaka (a Greek dish with eggplant), rolladen (a German beef roll) and other ethnic dishes.

I became a cook in my own right after my wedding in 1982. We had no money to speak of. We watched every penny and never did anything for entertainment that cost money. Except grocery shopping. Every other Friday night, my husband and I would go to the grocery store and buy groceries. We worked from a two-week menu and listed every single item, right down to the ketchup. If we were feeling flush, we would each get a “treat,” like a special jar of pickles or a box of brand-name cereal.

It was the menu writing that really got me to try new recipes. I cooked meals for four to six people, even though there were only two of us, because then we would have leftovers for lunches. We could not afford to buy our lunches. Each day I would come home and make a full meal of two or three items – usually a main dish and vegetable side, maybe a starch too. Every Sunday night we ate at my parent’s house. It saved money, and my Mom and I would cook together most of the time.

I still jot down a sketchy menu before I go to the grocery store. Now I go once a week so I can take advantage of any specials that are running and so my produce is fresher. From May to November, I also get a half-bushel of organic produce from Sammy Koenigsberg, a farmer in Wesley Chapel, NC. He grows a wide variety of veggies for some restaurants in Charlotte and also has about 24 of us “shareholders” that reap what he sows. I’m never quite sure what is going to show up in the box from farmer Sammy, although I can make fairly good predictions based upon the season. But it is this box of goodies that continues to stretch my culinary talents. It’s from the farmer that I learned how to roast garlic, make basil pesto, and sauté greens with olive oil and garlic, tossing them with hot spaghetti with for a magnificent lunch.

My philosophy on eating is that everything deserves to be tried at least once. And so my philosophy on cooking is that food should be prepared in such a way as to make people want to taste it. It’s always easier to taste food that is not intimidating or ugly.

And now for the bombshell. There is one food that I have left behind. It is lima beans. I’m telling you … no matter how many times I’ve tried them, I haven’t found any that I’ve liked. If there are a couple in my food, like in a stew or a pot pie, that’s one thing. But if there is a pile of limas on my plate, I’m likely to leave them behind. A friend of mine says I just haven’t had them prepared the right way yet. So if you have a lima bean recipe that you think I should try, send it on in to the newspaper. I’ll try it. I’ll try anything.

For The Lancaster News

Broccoli Raab Spaghetti

Broccoli Raab Spaghetti
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

12 oz thin spaghetti
2 or more cloves of garlic, chopped
red pepper flakes
4 tablespoons olive oil
8 cups chopped broccoli raab
4-6 cups chicken stock or water
parmesan cheese

Break the spaghetti into 2-4 inch lengths. In a large skillet, sauté the garlic and red pepper flakes in oil. As soon as the garlic turns translucent, add 1 cup of chicken stock or water. Add the spaghetti and salt to taste. Stir until all the pasta is well-coated with oil and water. It may take some time for the spaghetti to wilt enough to settle into the water.
When the spaghetti has become flexible, add the broccoli raab. As the mixture cooks, add more stock or water – 1/2 cup at a time – stirring constantly, to keep the pasta from sticking. Stop adding the liquid when the pasta is almost done. Continue stirring until all the remaining liquid is absorbed. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and serve immediately.

Adapted from a recipe by Edward Giobbi in Fine Gardening Magazine.

For The Lancaster News

Dried Cranberry and White Chocolate Biscotti

Coffee Cookie News
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries (about 6 ounces)
1 egg white
6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker’s), chopped, or white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large heavy baking sheet with parchment paper, foil or a Silpat® baking sheet. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl. Sift or whisk to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, butter, 2 eggs and almond extract in a large bowl until well-blended. Mix in flour mixture. Stop the mixer and stir in the dried cranberries.
Divide the dough in half. On the baking sheet, with room for some spreading, shape each half into logs approximately 2 1/2 inches wide, 9 1/2 inches long and 1 inch high. Whisk the remaining egg white until foamy; brush the egg white on the top and sides of each log.

Bake the logs until golden brown, about 35 minutes, until they crack and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. The logs will spread a bit. Remove from oven, but keep the oven turned on. Cool logs on a rack for about 10 minutes. Using a serrated or electric knife, cut the logs on a diagonal into 1/2-inch-wide slices. Arrange the slices, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes; turn biscotti over. Bake about 5 minutes longer, or until they are dry.
Stir the white chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth. Using a fork, drizzle the chocolate over the biscotti. Let stand until chocolate sets, about 30 minutes. The biscotti can be stored in an airtight container for a week or frozen.
Makes about 28

From Bon Appetit magazine, posted on
For The Lancaster News

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Pasta with Vegetable-Tomato Sauce

Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

2 (28-oz) cans whole tomatoes
1 1/3 cup onion, chopped
1 1/3 cup carrots, chopped
1 1/3 cup celery, with leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (or 2 teaspoons dried)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1/2 cup olive oil
Pull the tomatoes from the cans and place them in a food processor or food mill. Add 1 cup of the juice from the cans. Puree until smooth.
Place the tomato puree in a large saucepan and add onions, carrots, celery, parsley, sugar and salt. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently.
When the vegetables are cooked, transfer the mixture to a food processor or food mill and puree until smooth. Return the mixture to the saucepan.
Add the olive oil and simmer over low heat an additional 15 minutes.
Adapted from “The Joy of Pasta.” By Joe Famularo and Louise Imperiale, Barron’s 1983.

Three-Egg Pasta
(5 to 6 servings, about 1 pound)

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon lukewarm water or milk
Put the flour on a flat surface or in a bowl and make a well in the center deep enough to hold all the other ingredients.
Break the eggs into the well and add the other ingredients. With a fork, whisk the wet ingredients together. Then begin knocking some of the flour into the egg mixture with the fork, a little at a time. Once a thick paste has formed, stop using the fork and start working the rest of the flour in with your fingers, until you get most of the flour incorporated into a ball of dough. You will have some residual flour and scraps left. They can be kneaded into the dough ball, but can be discarded.
Move the ball to a clean surface that has been freshly-dusted with flour. Knead the dough for 9-10 minutes, until the ball is smooth and satiny and not tough. Cover it with a bowl or tea towel and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
Note: The basic rule is for every egg, use 3/4 cup of flour. If you use 1 egg, use 3/4 cup of flour; 1 1/2 cup flour for 2 eggs, and so on. One-egg pasta will yield about 1/2 pound, two-egg pasta will yield about 3/4 pound.

From “The Joy of Pasta” by Joe Famularo & Louise Imperiale, Barron’s 1983.
For The Lancaster News

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Cauliflower Mac n Cheese

Cauliflower Mac n Cheese
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

8 cups water
6 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
8 ounces uncooked small seashell pasta
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups 1% low-fat milk
2 teaspoons chopped fresh or 3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 (1-ounce) slices white bread
2 teaspoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400°.
Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan; add cauliflower and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling water, and cook 4 minutes or until tender. Remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon, reserving cooking liquid; set cauliflower aside. Bring cooking liquid to a rolling boil. Add pasta, and cook 7 minutes or until al dente; drain and set aside.
Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup, and level with a knife. Combine flour and milk in a saucepan, stirring well with a whisk. Stir in thyme and garlic; cook over medium heat until thick (about 8 minutes), stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt, cheeses, onions, mustard, and pepper. Combine cauliflower, pasta, and cheese sauce in a large bowl. Spoon the cauliflower mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish. Place bread in food processor; pulse 10 times or until coarse crumbs form to measure 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs with butter; sprinkle evenly over cauliflower mixture. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)
From Cooking Light, January, 2000

I'd definitely make this again, mostly because it's so kid-friendly. However, it really needs to be more zippy. Some red pepper flakes, maybe some other seasoning.

For The Lancaster News

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Jeff's Chili

Jeff's Chili
Originally uploaded by Food Fanatic.

1 to 1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
2 cans Rotelle® Tomatoes
1 sm can diced tomatoes
1-2 onions, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
4 beef bouillon cubes
2 cans chili beans
Tomato juice-2 cups to 1 whole can
Salt & Pepper to taste
Brown the beef, onions and garlic in a 5 quart dutch oven. Add the Rotelle tomatoes, regular tomatoes, bouillon cubes and chili beans. Mix well. Start pouring the tomato juice into the pot until the chili is as soupy as you like. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, until the mixture starts to simmer. Lower the heat to keep it to a simmer, cover and cook for as long as you like.
Garnish with green onions and grated cheese.
This is my family’s “best bowl of chili.” The recipe was developed by my brother-in-law, Jeff Buller.

For The Lancaster News

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Homemade Crackers

Homemade Crackers
Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.
I'm glad I only made half a batch for the first attempt at these crackers. The batch calls for dividing the dough into 8 pieces and working with each piece, rolling it out and baking it, one at a time.
Well the first 3 balls I rolled out and baked tasted pretty much like twigs. But the last batch came out pretty good.
So I'll try another batch later and serve those for supper with chili.
I'll also try to find a recipe that calls for white flour.
This recipe came from the Food Network website. The only fault I find with it is that it doesn't tell you how thin to roll the dough. At the very least, they should have said something like "as thin as you can."

3 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups warm water
Optional toppings:
coarse salt
Grated Parmesan
Sesame seeds
Cumin seed

In a food processor, measure out the flour and salt. Process 10 seconds to mix thoroughly. Turn processor back on and add the water in a thin stream. After all the water is added, process another 10 seconds, until the dough forms into one large ball.
If the dough is very sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, processing each time. If the dough is too dry and crumbly, add more water, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Once the dough is all together and smooth, pull it out of the processor. Knead on a lightly floured surface for 30 seconds or so until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 seconds.
Start the oven at 500 degrees, with the racks in the center.
After the dough has rested, cut it into 8 pieces. Remove one piece and cover the rest again with wrap.
Roll out your ball of dough as thinly as you can. Move to a baking sheet. The crackers will brown from the bottom, so I did not put down silpat or parchment or even spray the bottom of the pan. They didn't stick, either.
Cut the crackers with a pizza cutter or knife. Sprinkle with your chosen topping. Spritz the top of the crackers lightly with water (I forgot to do this step. That will probably make a difference).
Bake 3 minutes. Check them. If they are started to brown a tiny bit on top, remove them. If they are not, leave them in, checking them at 30 second intervals.
I have to say my last batch, which is pictured here, was the thinnest and I still baked them for about 5 minutes.
Remember, they start browning on the bottom, but I found I need to see a bit of browning on top for them to be done.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Not-Quite-White Chili

Not-Quite-White Chili
Originally uploaded by
Food Fanatic.
This was a good recipe. I think I'd spice it up a bit more, though. Maybe a little more than a dash of cayenne. We ate it with homemade tortilla chips.

2 cans (14.5 oz) chicken broth-or 3 cups homemade chicken stock, more or less
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can (4 oz) chopped green chilis with liquid
3 cans great northern beans
1 tsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
Tabasco to taste
cayenne to taste
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used a 1.16 lb package of chicken tenderloins)

Place the chicken in a large pot and add water until just about covered. Turn heat to high and when it comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Turn chicken over a couple of times until they are starting to look cooked, but not quite all the way through. Remove from the pan and toss out the water.

Pour a small amount of the chicken broth into the pot (approx 1/4 cup) and add onions and garlic. Simmer and stir until the onions are wilted and started to turn translucent. Add the chilis. Stir well.
Add the beans with liquid, cumin, oregano, Tabasco, remaining broth and cayenne.
Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat back to just a simmer. Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and add.
Cover the pot and allow to simmer at least 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
This chili gets spicier the longer is cooks.
Garnish with jalapeno peppers, green onions, shredded cheese...whatever you desire.