Raiding the Freezer and the Pantry

Danish bars using ingredients I had on hand.
I've been trying to use things that are in the freezer and the pantry, so this afternoon I noticed a package of Puff Pastry, and I thought oh I'll make something with that.  In the pantry a can of cherry pie filling was just what I needed to make Danish bars.  And yes I had cream cheese in the fridge.

It's possible to find almost any recipe online when you indicate the ingredients you want to use, and I found just the one I needed.

  • 1 sheet Puff Pastry dough, thawed
  • 8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 4 Tbsp Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup canned  Cherry Pie Filling

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet.

On a lightly floured surface roll out thawed puff pastry into a 12×9″ rectangle. Cut in half lengthwise, yielding 2 4-½” strips. Cut those two strips crosswise into thirds, to yield six 4×4 ½” pieces.

With a knife, score ½” border around the edge of each piece of puff pastry. Use a fork to make pricks into the dough within the border of each piece. This will help keep the middle of each piece from rising.

In a bowl, stir together softened cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla. Spoon about 2-3 tablespoons of mixture into the middle of each piece of dough and spread around evenly, ensuring the mixture stays within the borders.

In the middle of the cream cheese, add 4 or 5 cherries.

Bake for 20 minutes, on the middle rack and rotate the baking sheet half way through baking. Remove from baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving.


Cut into six rectangles. 

Prick center so that area won't rise. 
Fill the pricked area with cream cheese mixture and top with cherries. 
Out of the oven. 
Ready to eat with a bit of confectioner's sugar sifted on top. 

These will be perfect for breakfast, but I must admit, I had one for a snack almost as soon as they came out of the oven.  They are good!

Cabbage Roll Casserole

Shredded cabbage ready for the cabbage roll casserole. 
Not too long ago I posted on this blog a recipe for cabbage rolls.   Now I've found this recipe that combines the delicious flavors of cabbage rolls in this casserole with much less work.  I made this today, and it is quite good.
Saute onions.

Add ground beef. 

Fry until meat is brown. 
Add tomato sauce to uncooked rice. 
Second layer of shredded cabbage over sauce layer. 
Meat layer over cabbage layer. 

Out of the oven and ready for the table. A one-dish meal. 
I'm keeping this recipe.

Cook For Good's Tomato Sauce With Kale and Raisins


I subscribe to Linda Watson's website, Cook for Good, where she gives recipes for healthful living along with other interesting advice on food and cooking.  She recently posted this as one of her go to recipes for sauce, and after I tried it, I absolutely agree. I'll be saving this one.

1/4 teaspoon olive oil
1 small bunch kale, collards, or chard (about 8 ounces or 230 grams), stems and leaves separated and chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried ground chipotle powder (I used smoked paprika)

one 32-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if possible
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup walnut pieces, chopped (I used cashews.)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  1. In a large skillet or medium pot, heat oil over medium-low heat. Add chopped kale stems and onion. Stir to spread oil around bottom of skillet. Cook chopped onion and kale stems until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. Stir garlic and chipotle powder into kale and onion mixture. Top with chopped kale leaves. Cover pan and reduce heat to low. (Water that clings to rinsed greens will add enough moisture to create steam.) Cook until greens are tender, about 10 minutes, stirring half-way through.
  3. Add tomatoes, raisins, walnuts, and oregano. Bring sauce to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low. Cover skillet and simmer for about 5 minutes, until sauce is hot and flavors blended.
  4. Serve hot tossed with hot whole-wheat noodles or over quinoa or a baked potato. Refrigerate any extra for up to 5 days. Sauce freezes well for up to a year.


I recently made this and stuffed bell peppers with it, and I can envision using it for many different dishes.  She says that it freezes well, so it will be easy to keep a supply on hand for last minute meal preps.

Do check out her website.   I'm sure you will find it as enjoyable and helpful as I do.  And we are proud to have her right here in Raleigh.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Pimento Cheese

Yellow bell peppers ready to stuff. 
I saw these beautiful yellow bell peppers at the grocery and it reminded me I hadn't had stuffed bell peppers in a long time.  I had just made a delicious sauce from a recipe on Cook for Good, a blog I follow.  The sauce is great to have on hand for spaghetti, pasta, or in this case to use in stuffing the peppers.


To two cups of the sauce I added a cup of black lentils, the diced pepper that I had from removing the top of the peppers, and another cup of fresh thinly sliced kale.  I intended to keep this a vegetarian version of stuffed peppers so no meat. I like to keep on hand pouches of Simply balanced black lentils.  In just 90 seconds in the microwave they are ready to eat.

After removing the top and the inside core of the peppers, I steamed them for about 10 minutes so they would be more tender when baked.  If you like your peppers crunchy then you can omit this step.

To add some protein to the dish, I planned to add cheese to the sauce, but alas I had only pimento cheese.  So why not try that I thought?  I mixed 1 and a half cups of the sauce mixture and 1/2 cup of pimento cheese and stuffed the peppers.

They were baked in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 35 minutes.  The pimento cheese added a wonderful flavor to the peppers.

This is a vegetarian recipe that I intend to keep.

Cottage Cheese and Blackberry Salad

Cottage Cheese and Blackberry Salad. 
Jeanette and I watched the Duke-UNC basketball game together last night.  She  brought oyster stew and mussels from 42nd Street Oyster Bar, and I made a salad and a dessert.  While shopping at the Fresh Market I spied a container of luscious blackberries that I snapped up as an inspiration for my salad.  I had cottage cheese that I wanted to use and I googled for a salad recipe using those two ingredients.  I found just what I needed.

The recipe called for balsamic glaze that I easily made by adding 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a saucepan and reducing it to about half over medium heat.  This took about 30 minutes.  This can be stored in the fridge for a week or two for future use.  It is much cheaper to make your own balsamic glaze if you have balsamic vinegar on hand.
Balsamic glaze.

On each salad plate I placed a cup of mixed greens and garnished them with the blackberries.
Mixed greens garnished with blackberries. 

I drizzled balsamic glaze over the berries and the greens.
 A scoop of cottage cheese was placed in the middle of each (about 1/3 cup) .

I happened to have both sliced almonds and dried cranberries that I used to garnish the final salad.

This salad made for a good first course that was followed by a bowl of delicious oyster stew and a side of steamed mussels in a garlic butter sauce.
Steamed PEI mussels from 42nd Street Oyster Bar.

First course of Cottage Cheese Blackberry Salad.  
And in case you haven't heard the Carolina Tarheels came through with a big win!!!!

Another Great Recipe from the Barefoot Contessa: Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew with Biscuits. 
I was expecting friends for dinner a few weeks ago, and I wanted to have something that could be prepared in advance and that would serve more or less as a one dish meal.  Recipes from the Barefoot Contessa never fail.  This Chicken Stew with Biscuits filled the bill perfectly.

  • For the stew:
  • 3 whole (6 split) chicken breasts, bone in, skin on (I used chicken thighs because I like dark meat.)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 chicken bouillon cubes
  • 12 tablespoons (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 cups medium-diced carrots (4 carrots), blanched for 2 minutes
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas (2 cups)
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen small whole onions (I substituted mushrooms for this.)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash.

Ina Garten included a recipe for making the biscuits, but I cheated and used canned  biscuits instead.  

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and rub them with olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 40 minutes, or until cooked through. Set aside until cool enough to handle, then remove the meat from the bones and discard the skin. Cut the chicken into large dice. You will have 4 to 6 cups of cubed chicken.
In a small saucepan, heat the chicken stock and dissolve the bouillon cubes in the stock. In a large pot or Dutch oven, melt the butter and sauté the onions over medium-low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until translucent. Add the flour and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock to the sauce. Simmer over low heat for 1 more minute, stirring, until thick. Add 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and the heavy cream. Add the cubed chicken, carrots, peas, onions, and parsley. Mix well. Place the stew in a 10 x 13 x 2-inch oval or rectangular baking dish. Place the baking dish on a sheet pan lined with parchment or wax paper. Bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas. Add the half-and-half and combine on low speed. Mix in the parsley.
Dump the dough out on a well-floured board and, with a rolling pin, roll out to 3/8 inch thick. Cut out twelve circles with a 2-1/2 inch round cutter.
Remove the stew from the oven and arrange the biscuits on top of the filling. Brush them with egg wash, and return the dish to the oven. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the biscuits are brown and the stew is bubbly.
This recipe is from her Family Style Cookbook.  

I added a salad and it was a fine simple and delicious meal. 


Cookies for a Snowy Day



Over Christmas I made about 8 batches of different kinds of cookies, and this recipe was the favorite of one of my grandson's.  He called them Snickerdoodles, but I found out these are not actual Snickerdoodles.  More about that in another blog. I found this recipe from  Heather Cristo's Blog


Milk Chocolate, Toffee and Smoked Almond Cookies


Ingredients:


1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I omitted this because the almonds were salty.)
1/2 cup salted roasted smoked almonds, chopped
10 ounce bag milk chocolate chips (I used a 12 ounce bag of semi-sweet chips.)
8 ounce bag of toffee pieces


Instructions:


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a sheet pan with parchment or silpats.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together the butter and the sugar.
Add the eggs and the vanilla and mix well.
In a separate bow, combine the flour, baking soda and salt.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and combine well.
Add the almonds, chocolate chips, and toffee and combine well.
Scoop cookie dough onto the prepared sheet pans and bake at 35 for 8-10 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let the cookies cool on a rack.


Preparation time:  10 minutes


Cooking time:  12 minutes in my oven. 







Linda Watson's Orange Broccoli Salad

Broccoli, Orange Bowl (Photo by Linda Watson, Cook for Good)
I follow Linda Watson's Cook for Good and recently she posted a recipe for broccoli that I made as a side dish for dinner the other night.   Check out the recipe here




I cooked the broccoli florets in the microwave briefly so that they remained bright green but weren't raw.




I diced candied orange slices to add to the broccoli.





To the orange juice and cornstarch I added slices of green onions to make a dressing to pour over the broccoli.






I didn't have any fresh or candied ginger so I added a bit of ground ginger to the dressing. 


Just before serving I added the cashew nuts.




This can be served chilled (as I did for the dinner) as a side dish or a salad, or it can be served warm over quinoa or rice.



I heated the leftover broccoli and served over Trader Joe's rice medley.   This dish is great served either way.




Another one of Linda Watson's recipes that are tasty and healthful.