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Best Recipes of 2008

From me to yous-all, it's...

Best Recipes of 2008
from Molly & Steve

Table of Contents:

Florentine Scramble
Mexican Enchilada Sauce
Basil Chicken Salad
Baked Macaroni, Tomatoes, and Cheese
Salsa Couscous Chicken
Skillet Baked Ziti
Pork Pozole
Greek Burgers with Cucumber Sauce
Captain Bay-Schmith's Chicken
Healthier Blueberry Muffins
Orange and Chocolate Chip Dots


Florentine Scramble

Adapted from Sandra Lee Semi-Homemade, 2006. A delicious and healthy omelet, good for any meal of the day.

4 eggs (or 1 1/2 cups refrigerated egg product such as Egg Beaters)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup frozen cut spinach, cooked
1/2 cup canned diced tomatoes with sweet onion and garlic (or regular ones with some garlic and onion spices added)
Butter or cooking spray

1. In a small bowl, beat eggs and stir in basil and Parmesan. Set aside.
2. Squeeze any excess water from spinach. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and stir in tomatoes. Cover and microwave on high for 1 minute. Set aside.
3. Coat a medium nonstick skillet with butter or cooking spray. Heat over medium heat. Pour egg mixture into pan. As egg starts to set, scramble with a wooden spoon or spatula.
4. When eggs are almost cooked, sprinkle in spinach and tomatoes. Fold until combined and eggs are just cooked through.

Serves 4.



Mexican Enchilada Sauce
By Donna Matthews on recipezaar.com

This works as both an enchilada sauce and as a chip dip. It's easy to adjust the seasonings; feel free to try adding cumin, pepper, creole seasoning, or whatever else sounds good.

3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 teaspoon oregano
2 1/2 cups water (more if needed)
1 8-oz can tomato sauce

1. Combine all dry ingredients in a small bowl. Stirring constantly, slowly add enough water to make a paste.
2. Pour into pan and add rest of water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.
3. Stir in tomato sauce.

Use in your favorite enchilada recipe, or sprinkle it on nachos along with cheese and guacamole or your preferred toppings.

Or, for a quick meal, the recipe's author suggests softening a corn tortilla in a bit of hot oil, dragging it through the sauce, then putting it on a plate and covering it with grated cheese, chopped onions, and sliced black olives. Top with another softened sauced tortilla, heat in microwave, and enjoy.




Basil Chicken Salad

By Mirj on recipezaar.com

A tasty and healthy salad for the hot summer days.

6 tablespoons mayonnaise and/or plain yogurt (fat-free works, if you want fewer calories)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3 cups chopped cooked chicken breast
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped green onions (can substitute or add tomato if you prefer)
1/4 cup shredded fresh basil
6 cups shredded fresh spinach or greens
1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts

1. Combine first 5 ingredients and stir well.
2. Combine chicken, celery, onions, and basil in a medium bowl. Add to mayonnaise mixture and toss gently.
3. Place 1 cup of spinach on each of 6 salad plates.
4. Spoon chicken mixture evenly over each plate.
5. Sprinkle with pine nuts.

Serves 6.




Baked Macaroni, Tomatoes, and Cheese

By CountryLady on recipezaar.com

A fairly simple and somewhat guilty pleasure. Easy eating--pleases kids, too.

3 cups macaroni
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 28-ounce can stewed tomatoes
1 can tomato soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs or grated Parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta till tender but firm. Drain and return to pot.
2. Beat eggs with milk and add to macaroni; cook over low heat, stirring until no liquid remains and macaroni is cooked (about 3 minutes).
3. Remove from heat and stir in soup and tomatoes, breaking up with back of spoon.
4. Spoon half of mixture into greased casserole dish and sprinkle with half of cheese.
5. Top with remaining macaroni mixture and sprinkle with bread crumbs or Parmesan.
6. Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for 25 minutes, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake until melted.

Serves 4.




Salsa Couscous Chicken
By Ellie Matthews of Seattle, 1998

Mom Ringle sent this as a newspaper clipping years ago, and we've made it many times. I've simply forgotten to include it till now. This recipe won $1 million in the Pillsbury Quick & Easy Bake-Off of 1998, so that ought to tell you how good it is.

3 cups hot cooked couscous or rice (about 1 cup uncooked)
1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
1/4 cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 chicken thighs, skin removed (we've used other chicken cuts--they work fine)
1 cup salsa
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoon dried currants (raisins will do in a pinch)
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. While couscous or rice is cooking, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add almonds; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until golden brown. Remove almonds from skillet with slotted spoon; set aside.
2. Add garlic to skillet; cook and stir 30 seconds. Add chicken; cook 4 to 5 minutes or until browned, turning once.
3. In medium bowl, combine salsa, water, currants, honey, cumin, and cinnamon; mix well. Add to chicken; mix well. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 20 minutes or until chicken is fork-tender and juices run clear, stirring occasionally.
4. Stir in almonds. Serve chicken mixture with couscous.

Serves 4.




Skillet Baked Ziti

From America's Test Kitchen, "Easy Skillet Suppers" episode. Brought to us by Mom and Dad Winter. Tested it for a dinner and all agreed it was quite good!

To complete this recipe in 30 minutes, preheat your oven before assembling your ingredients. If your skillet is not ovensafe, transfer the pasta mixture into a shallow 2-quart casserole dish before sprinkling with the cheese and baking.

1 tablespoon olive oil
6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
table salt and ground black pepper
1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes
3 cups water
12 ounces ziti (or penne) (3 3/4 cups)
1/2 cup heavy cream (we've substituted half and half, and even some milk)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 475°.
2. Combine oil, garlic, pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in 12-inch, ovensafe nonstick skillet and saute over medium-high heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add crushed tomatoes, water, ziti, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and cook, stirring often and adjusting heat as needed to maintain vigorous simmer, until ziti is almost tender, 15 to 18 minutes.
3. Stir in cream, Parmesan, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle mozzarella evenly over ziti. Transfer skillet to oven and bake until cheese has melted and browned, about 10 minutes. Serve.

Serves 4.




Pork Pozole

From Parents.com, December 2008

Here's one for the slow cooker. Very warming and delicious. Works as a stew or as a filling for tortillas.

1 can (15 oz) hominy, drained (white or yellow)
1 can (14.5 oz) Mexican-style diced tomatoes
1 can (10 oz) green enchilada sauce
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 lb boneless port loin roast, trimmed (beef, chicken, or other meats work too)
1/2 cup snipped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Tortilla chips
Diced avocado and lime wedges (optional)

1. Combine the hominy, tomatoes, enchilada sauce, onion, garlic, and cumin in slow cooker. Top with pork, spooning hominy mixture over the meat. Cover and cook on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
2. Take out the pork and shred or coarsely chop it. Add cilantro and lime juice to the slow cooker. Add pork back to the slow cooker and stir well.
3. Spoon into bowls, and serve with tortilla chips, diced avocado, and lime wedges; or serve in rolled up tortillas if you like.

Serves 4.





Greek Burgers with Cucumber Sauce

From Parents.com

A yummy blend of burgers and gyros. Easy to make, too.

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt
1 package (1 oz) ranch dressing mix (or improvise with your own spice rack)
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck or ground lamb
6 regular-size pita pockets (6-inch)
6 leaves green lettuce
1 medium tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped

1. Combine 1 cup yogurt and the dressing mix in a medium-size bowl. Remove 1/2 cup to another bowl and reserve. To remaining yogurt mixture in bowl, add 1/2 cup plain yogurt and cucumber. Refrigerate until serving.
2. Heat broiler. Add ground meat to reserved 1/2 cup yogurt mixture; mix well. Divide into 6 equal portions; shape each into 3-1/2-inch patty. Place on broiler pan. (You can also cook them on a Foreman Grill, or your preferred burger cooking method.) Broil 5 inches from heat 7 minutes on each side or until internal temperature registers 160°F.
3. Cut off top quarter of each pita. Fill rest of each pita with lettuce, hamburger, cucumber-yogurt sauce, and tomato.

Serves 6.





Captain Bay-Schmith's Chicken

Posted by Nancy Leson on the Seattle Times website, May 16, 2008. Her instructions follow.

For this easy dinner you'll need a chicken. Or two. We always make two, using broiler/fryers. You'll also need a medium onion, a lemon, several large lettuce leaves (iceberg works best, but whatever you've got on hand will do). And the secret ingredient: Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

Now, set up your barbecue grill. And forget about using a gas grill: It will seriously lose something in the translation. You'll need a generous chimney of coals, heated till they're white-hot.

While they're heating, prep your bird(s). Rinse them, pat them dry -- but not too dry -- and stuff the cavity with half an onion and half a lemon per chicken. Truss the legs with kitchen twine or use a couple of toothpicks to close the cavity. Then completely dust them with the Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

Let the chicken sit for a bit while you go out and prepare the grill. (The Lawry's will get somewhat pasty from being in contact with the moist chicken: that's the way it should be.) If you've got those little basket thingamajigs in your grill, great. If not, distribute the hot coals around the perimeter: the chicken requires indirect heat. We always put some "green" cuttings from our fruit trees (apple or cherry) in the baskets. It adds a distinctive smokiness and if you don't have any, go scavange for some!

Position the chicken(s) in the middle of the grill. Then cover them with the lettuce leaves. Put the lid on the grill, making certain the vent is open on both the top and the bottom. Let them roast in there for about 40 minutes before taking off the lid and removing the lettuce leaves. The chicken will still be kind of white, and where the lettuce wasn't covering the bird it'll have a deep, dark Coppertone tan. No biggie.

Toss the lettuce leaves and spin the individual birds (not the grate) 180-degrees; if there are hot or cold spots in the grill, that'll help even things out. Put the lid back on and and continue roasting. For a single bird, it should take about an hour and 10 minutes total roasting time, give or take, till the chicken's done.

We never use a meat thermometer for Captain Bay-Schmith's chicken -- we just jiggle the leg. If the joints are loose, you're good to go, if not, keep on cooking till they wiggle freely.

If you're using a larger chicken (anything above, say, 3 3/4-pounds), you'll have to increase the time and keep checking. It may take closer to two hours for bigger birds.






Healthier Blueberry Muffins

Adapted by Molly from general blueberry muffin recipes everywhere.

1 cup wheat flour
1 cup oats
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 pint (1 cup) fresh or frozen blueberries
Cinnamon (optional)

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Put muffin papers into a muffin pan. (Makes about 10 regular muffins, depending on depth of pan.) Mix oats and milk together and set aside for a few minutes.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, oats (and milk), sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well inside the mix, and in the well whisk together 1/4 cup water, the eggs, and oil. Stir flour mixture into oil mixture just until moistened. Gently fold in berries.

3. Divide batter among prepared wells. Sprinkle each lightly with cinnamon, if desired. Bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer directly to wire rack and continue to cool.

Makes about 10 muffins.




Orange and Chocolate Chip Dots

Adapted from an ad in Reader's Digest at least a decade ago. Theirs were called "Orange-Ginger Holiday Cookies" and had no chocolate.

1 cup butter (or 1/2 c. butter and 1/2 c. canola oil)
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon grated orange peel, or 2 tablespoons orange extract
1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 375°F.
2. Beat together all ingredients except flour and chocolate chips; mix well. Stir in flour to form a dough. Mix in chocolate chips. If dough is too crumbly, add milk a tablespoon or two at a time until consistency improves.
3. Form cookies into balls about the size of golf balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. These cookies do not spread much, so you can place the dough balls fairly close together.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes, until set but not brown. Let cool and serve.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Now that I'm in my second trimester, I'm loving food again, and smells too. Good thing, or it would've been hard to compile this collection without wanting to gag. Now, though, I'm all, "Jasmine green tea smells so incredibly good! Where can I get a perfume that smells exactly like this? And our Christmas tree! Our Christmas tree smells like heaven! And, mmm, did someone just peel open an orange?"

Comments

( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
pokeystar
Dec. 22nd, 2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
I do believe I'll be trying a few of these...

*memoried*
mollyringle
Dec. 24th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
Excellent! Enjoy.
naill_renfro
Dec. 22nd, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
Another baby on the way? Congratulations! How wonderful! Will this be the second?

mollyringle
Dec. 22nd, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! Yep, the second. And you'd know this by now if you ever read my journal when you're logged in. ;) (It was in a couple friends-locked entries.) But if you wear that tweed suit, I'll let the whole issue slide.
naill_renfro
Dec. 23rd, 2008 05:24 am (UTC)
Oops -- now I see. Actually logged in for once, so no anonymous postings this time... Well, repeated belated congratulations!

I see I missed a Holmes/Watson post, too. Couldn't you make the argument that Holmes/Watson is almost canon anyway?

Oh, and I'm wearing a tweed jacket and half-rimmed glasses, so be careful where you shelve those economics texts.
mollyringle
Dec. 23rd, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)
Hah. I myself had forgotten about the crazy porno Holmes/Watson dream. Bet you're real glad you caught that one. I'm going to blame pregnancy hormones again. (I mean, Michael Caine? I ask myself.)

But yeah. Holmes and Watson had one of those Very Close Victorian Friendships that make modern readers lift an eyebrow from time to time. Rather like Frodo and Sam, actually.
kalquessa
Dec. 22nd, 2008 09:51 pm (UTC)
Yay, Molly recipes!!

Oh, and if you do find green tea perfume that actually smells like green tea? Let me know. Because seriously.
mollyringle
Dec. 24th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
Enjoy!

And yeah, if anyone captures that jasmine-tea note, I will tell the world.
modmerseygirl
Dec. 23rd, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
Mmmm! Yummy! :-)

Hope you and your family are all doing well. Merry Christmas!
mollyringle
Dec. 24th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Thank you! Merry Christmas to you and your family too! Oh, and thank you for the card--we got it the other day. Very sweet of you!
laleonaenojada
Dec. 23rd, 2008 12:39 am (UTC)
I have to strongly recommend Mor Cosmetics Jasmine Tea. I love the smell of green tea, and this, to me, smells exactly like green tea with a few hints of jasmine. Decants, of course, available at theperfumedcourt
mollyringle
Dec. 24th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Oooh! *wishlists* Thank you. I knew someone might pipe up with ideas if I aired this desire.
gavinworld
Dec. 23rd, 2008 02:19 am (UTC)
I've forwarded your recipes to Chef Greg. Glad to hear that you're enjoying food again.
mollyringle
Dec. 24th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC)
Cool! Hope you find something you guys like. And yes, it's a good time of year to have an appetite.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )