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Merry Christmas. Eat!



This is one of the gifts I'm giving my nearest and dearest, so naturally you guys should get it too. No, not the picture, the recipes!

Best Recipes of 2006
from Molly & Steve

This year's theme, along with the usual "tasty," is "easy." With young Zachary around, we have less time to cook, so I cut corners wherever possible while still ending up with good food. Therefore none of these dishes are too complicated, and many use the slow cooker.

Long. If this hurts your eyes, email me and I can send it to you as a .doc file.

Skillet Lasagna
From--I think--America's Test Kitchen.

Lasagna made easier, and tastier! And with less pasta, if you're counting carbs.

Serves 4 to 6

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
Water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
Table salt
3 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound meatloaf mix or ground beef
10 curly-edged lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch lengths
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese plus 2 additional tablespoons
Ground black pepper
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

1. Pour tomatoes with their juices into 1-quart liquid measuring cup. Add water until mixture measures 1 quart.
2. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until onion begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meat and cook, breaking apart meat, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.
3. Scatter pasta over meat but do not stir. Pour diced tomatoes with juices and tomato sauce over pasta. Cover and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pasta is tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Remove skillet from heat and stir in 1/2 cup Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper. Dot with heaping tablespoons ricotta, cover, and let stand off heat for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with basil and remaining 2 tablespoons Parmesan. Serve.



Crockpot Peppery Roast
By Tish on Recipezaar.com

We're big on crockpot recipes this year. Ease has become especially important. Plus, now we actually have a crockpot.

This one smells like beef jerky while it's cooking. Throw in some chopped vegetables to make a meal of it, if you like.

4 lbs beef roast
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon onion salt
2 teaspoons celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tablespoon liquid smoke
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 dash nutmeg
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 drops hot pepper sauce (more if desired)

1. Place roast in slow cooker.
2. Combine rest of ingredients and pour over roast.
3. Cover and cook on high 6-8 hours.



Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from recipe by Hey Jude on Recipezaar.com

Marinade
1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground red pepper
2 teaspoons fresh ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 piece gingerroot, minced (1/2-inch long)
1 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes

Sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. Marinate chicken for a couple hours.
2. Put chicken into slow cooker with sauce. Discard marinade. Add vegetables if desired, such as peas, diced carrots, potatoes.
3. Cook on low, 4-6 hours or as specified in slow cooker manual.
4. Serve with basmati rice.




Spanish Rice
By Diana Thompson on Recipezaar.com; adapted to slow cooker by Molly

1 (4 ounce) can green chilies
3 cups rice, cooked and cooled
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can whole kernel corn (doesn't say whether big or small, so you choose)
1 cup sour cream
8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
8 ounces monterey jack cheese, grated
1 cup salsa

Add raw chicken meat if you want a more complete meal.

Slow cooker version:
1. Saute the onions, chiles and garlic in a small amount of olive oil, over medium heat, until the onions are soft.
2. Mix them with everything else in the slow cooker. Cook on low for several hours, or high for just a couple hours if you're in a hurry.

Non-slow cooker version:
1. Repeat step 1 above.
2. Set aside until cool.
3. When the vegetables and rice are cool, combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
4. Pour into a buttered 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
5. Bake, covered at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 minutes more.



Risotto Alla Montanara
(Rice with Beans, Mountaineer's Style)
From The Pleasures of Italian Cooking by Romeo Salta, 1962.

This is delizioso!

Serves 4-6

1 slice bacon, diced
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup peeled chopped tomatoes (I've used a standard can of diced tomatoes)
2 cups cooked or canned kidney beans
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon sage
1/4 teaspoon rosemary
3 cups cooked drained rice
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

In a saucepan, cook the bacon and onions until lightly browned. Add the celery, tomatoes, beans, salt, pepper, sage, and rosemary. Cover and cook over low heat 45 minutes. Stir in the rice and cheese. Cook 2 minutes. Taste for seasoning.



Cuban Black Beans and Rice
By Lanae Peterson on Recipezaar.com

This is one of my absolute favorites this year. Delicious, inexpensive, and makes tons!

Makes 12 servings

1 can black beans
1 onion, chopped
1 large bell pepper, chopped
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons ground cumin (optional)
1/4 cup water
1 finely chopped jalapeno pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups hot cooked rice, for serving
Shredded chicken, if desired

1. Combine all ingredients except rice in slow cooker, and cook 6 to 8 hours or until beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed.
2. Remove bay leaves.
3. Serve beans over rice.



Swiss Chard Chicken
From the label on a bundle of Swiss chard, from Purepak Inc., Oxnard, CA. The word "Oxnard" amuses me.

Tasty and healthy and all that good stuff!

Serves 2

4 cups chard (green, red, or rainbow)
Cooking spray or olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
6 oz chicken breast meat, cubed
2 Tbsp water
1 cup rice, cooked
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1. Preheat broiler.
2. Cut stems off chard leaves and dice. Cut leaves into 1/2" strips.
3. Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray (or use a bit of olive oil). Cook chard stems, onion, garlic, and chicken over medium heat for about 8 minutes.
4. Add leaves and water; cook another 3 minutes, until chard is limp.
5. Add soy sauce and rice and cook another 2 minutes.
6. To serve, divide mixture between 2 oven-proof serving plates and sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Place under broiler for 2 minutes.




Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread
By HeatherFeather on Recipezaar.com

This is different from the usual zucchini loaves. It bakes into a round loaf and it contains wheat. I tried it and then wrote "Awesome" on the printed-out recipe, so that tells you how good it is.

10-12 servings

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 egg whites (you may use egg substitutes)
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh zucchini, unpeeled,shredded
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped (optional)

1. Spray a 9" round baking tin with nonstick spray and preheat the oven to 350˚ F.
2. Stir together both types of flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves in a large bowl. Make a well in the center of this mixture.
3. In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy (not too much, just foamy, NOT meringue levels).
4. To the egg whites, add applesauce, buttermilk, and vanilla and stir using a wooden spoon.
5. Stir in the zucchini until well combined.
6. Pour this wet mixture into the"well" you made in the flour mixture and stir just until ingredients are all moistened and gently combined. Press out any large lumps with spoon, but don't overmix.
7. Gently fold in the nuts, if using. Don't overmix or you will have tough bread.
8. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for about 40-50 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean.
9. Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.



Lazy Irish Beer Bread
By Len on Recipezaar.com

I'm one-quarter Irish, so I can get away with the "lazy" stereotype. Besides, that's what the recipe was called. The person who submitted the recipe claims it came from "me own lazy Irish grandmother who died at 100 years plus one day old on Saint Patrick's Day back in 1968." This recipe really is so easy it's ridiculous, and tastes good warm with butter.

2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or use 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour plus 2 1/2 tsp baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt)
12 ounces room temperature beer (the better the beer, the better the bread)
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Hand mix all ingredients only until well mixed (do not beat or use a mixer).
2. Put mixture into a greased loaf pan.
3. Preheat your oven to 375º F degrees.
4. Bake for 45 minutes.



Golden Northern Cornbread
From The New Best Recipe (2004) by the editors of Cook's Illustrated

Forget those boxed cornbread mixes. This is the real deal and we're never going back.

1 cup yellow or white stone-ground or water-ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup milk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra softened butter for greasing pan


1. Adjust oven rack to center position and heat to 425 degrees. Grease a 9-by-9-by-2-inch metal pan.
2. Stir cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt in large bowl. Push dry ingredients up side of bowl to make a well.
3. Crack eggs into well and stir lightly with wooden spoon, then add buttermilk and milk. Stir wet and dry ingredients quickly until almost combined. Add melted butter; stir until ingredients are just combined.
4. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake until top is golden brown and lightly cracked and edges have pulled away from side of pan, about 25 minutes.
5. Transfer pan to wire rack to cool slightly, 5 to 10 minutes. Cut cornbread into squares and serve warm. (Pan can be wrapped in foil up to 1 day. Reheat cornbread in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.)




Double Chocolate Chip Cookies With Pecans
Adapted recipe from MEAN CHEF on Recipezaar.com

These cookies are fabulous--a double dose of chocolate. Make sure you don't overbake them. You could substitute walnuts for the pecans.

Makes 12-24 cookies.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
11 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso (or coffee) powder
3 large eggs
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
12 ounces chocolate chips (about 2 cups)
1 3/4 cups chopped pecans

1. Position 1 rack in the top 1/3 and another in the bottom 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Grease two baking sheets or line with waxed or parchment paper.
2. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in microwave. Remove from the heat but keep the chocolate mixture warm to ensure it does not set.
4. In a small bowl, combine the vanilla extract and the espresso powder and whisk until the espresso powder is dissolved. Stir the espresso mixture into the chocolate mixture.
5. Combine the eggs and both sugars in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer. Using the wire whip attachment, whip the mixture on high speed until pale, thickened and cool, about 5 minutes.
6. Fold in the warm chocolate mixture, then the flour mixture.
7. Stir in the chocolate chips and pecans.
8. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto the baking sheets, leaving about 1 to 1/2 inches between the cookies.
9. Bake for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are set: switch the positions of the baking sheets halfway through the baking time for even baking.
10. Cool the cookies on the baking sheets on wire racks for about 3 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.




Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake
Adapted from recipe by Sue L on Recipezaar.com

Originally called "Sinfully Rich Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake," but I object to labelling chocolate "sinful" or "decadent" or the like. Chocolate is only ever a force for good. Furthermore, I adapted the recipe so it includes more chocolate and egg, and less butter and sugar. So now it's healthy, see.

8 servings

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (may use semi-sweet)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 teaspoons flour, divided
1/4 cup sugar
5 large eggs

1. Melt together the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over very low heat, stirring to mix. Remove from heat when almost melted (do not scorch).
2. Preheat your oven to 300˚ F.
3. Fill a 9x13"-inch roasting pan or casserole halfway with water and place it on the center shelf of the oven.
4. Lightly grease the sides and bottom of a 9x5"-inch loaf pan, and dust with 1 teaspoon of flour. Cut out a piece of waxed paper to fit the bottom of the pan; place paper in the bottom of pan and set aside.
5. Place sugar, eggs and remaining 1 teaspoon of flour into the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on high for about 2 minutes.
6. Pour in the chocolate, and beat another 15-30 seconds, until it is mixed well.
7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and set the loaf pan in the center of the casserole dish half-filled with water (in the oven).
8. Bake for approximately 85 minutes or until a light crust forms and a toothpick can be removed clean. (In my experience it does take a long time to set.)
9. Cool the cake in the loaf pan on a wire rack for approximately 30 minutes, or until it cools down to room temp.
10. Cover pan and chill in the refrigerator for 4 hours or until set.
11. Serve garnished with powdered sugar or fresh raspberries and store unused portions in the refrigerator.

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
rachel2205
Dec. 11th, 2006 03:18 am (UTC)
Zach is getting so BIG. He really looks like a little boy now rather than just a baby! :)
mollyringle
Dec. 11th, 2006 04:30 am (UTC)
Girl, you're up LATE. :)
I know--he's really starting to seem like an individual lately, and I think of him more as a child than a baby. Even though he still can't quite walk or talk. :)
impetuousnote
Dec. 11th, 2006 01:05 pm (UTC)
Oh what a cutie pie! I think I say that every time you post pics of your little man but I can't help myself!

Thank you so much for the recipes! I've been trying to collect some more because I'm getting sick of parmesan chicken. ; ) It's better knowing they've been tried out. And thanks for making them a bit healthier.
mollyringle
Dec. 11th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
Thanks--hope you like them! We don't entirely sacrifice taste for health around here, but I try to improve the lot when possible.
dirae
Dec. 12th, 2006 01:14 am (UTC)
Thanks a bunch. I shall be printing this post out and placing into my binder. Perhaps, I'll email you a few that we've discovered over the past year. Ease is a must. (As a sidenote, I just got The Best of America's Test Kitchen 2006 in the mail today and I'm eager to browse through it).

Zach, btw, is a handsome lil'un.
mollyringle
Dec. 12th, 2006 06:16 am (UTC)
Kewl--yes, send more! I always like new ideas.

For printing, I can email it to you. Will look prettier, with page breaks and all.

America's Test Kitchen/ Cook's Illustrated (same people, if I recall) have become our gold standard. They do a great job at finding a very tasty, but not too ridiculously difficult, solution to just about every common recipe out there.

I like to think Zach looks/will look like Ewan MacGregor, because he has similar coloring. :) Not that there's a lot of reason that he should, other than wishful thinking.
(Deleted comment)
mollyringle
Dec. 15th, 2006 01:09 am (UTC)
The FDA may not have said it, but plenty of other researchers have, for dark chocolate anyway. And I'm living as an unofficial volunteer in eating it daily and proving that one can stay healthy while doing so. :)
(Deleted comment)
mollyringle
Dec. 19th, 2006 12:55 am (UTC)
Now that sounds like a good proposal. Think the NIH will give it funding?...
celtic4
Dec. 12th, 2006 11:20 pm (UTC)
Aw, Zachary is adorable! He's grown up so much since the last pic I've seen of him. ^_^

And thanks for the recipes~! I'm a terrible cook but always striving to improve, and I love to eat, so I appreciate new stuff to cook.
mollyringle
Dec. 13th, 2006 01:15 am (UTC)
Sweet--hope you find some you like! :)
elycia
Dec. 19th, 2006 12:46 pm (UTC)
*snuzzles adorable lil' boy*

Your recipes sound delightful. Would you mind very much emailing the .doc file to elycia27 at gmail dot com? I'd really appreciate it!
mollyringle
Dec. 20th, 2006 09:48 pm (UTC)
No problem. Done!
elanna9
May. 12th, 2007 11:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much! :) Several of these look delicious.
mollyringle
May. 13th, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)
You're welcome! Happy cooking. :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )